Target Area Rationale:

Robotics technology has advanced at a breathtaking rate over the past decades. While robots were once limited to the factory floor in industrial and manufacturing applications, they now operate with minimal human support and impact every facet of our lives: teams of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and underwater vehicles (AUVs) collect data to address critical questions for our farmers, scientists, and military; autonomous ground vehicle (UGV) technology is making its way into our cars, farm equipment, and all the machinery that mines our resources; robots equipped with advanced manipulators now start to perform tasks previously reserved for highly-dexterous human hands in hospitals, farms, forests, and oceans; and personal robots that interact with us in more and more natural ways are entering our homes and offices to help us with our day-to-day tasks. Not only do all those systems promise to transform our lives, they also all share one key feature: they heavily rely on recent advances in AI.

This proliferation of robotic systems, intertwined with AI growth, brings with it concerns about privacy, economic impact, and ethical consideration. It is imperative that OSU remains at the forefront of the development of these technologies, continues to train the next generation of technicians, researchers, and innovators, and manages the increasingly complex impact of robotics on society. This endeavor requires an inherently transdisciplinary approach, and OSU is uniquely positioned to address these problems by leveraging our world-class researchers across many colleges. To name just a few areas of strength in Robotics at OSU, our researchers in Forestry are designing UAVs to monitor forest canopies, our colleagues in CEOAS are deploying autonomous gliders to continuously monitor the ocean, our faculty in Agricultural Sciences are utilizing state-of-the-art robotics technology to pick fruit and monitor the health of crops, and our faculty in Engineering are designing AI approaches to provide the underlying intelligence for many of these systems.

Finally, OSU also hosts one of the handful of Robotics MS/PhD graduate programs in the nation, which has produced dozens of world-class alumni over the last decade who are currently innovating in industry, academia, and government. Determining how Robotics and AI at OSU will grow is of critical importance to understand and manage the impact of Robotics and AI on our world.

Robotics Task Force Members:
  • Geoff Hollinger, Associate Professor, School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering – Co-chair (COE)
  • Kagan Tumer, Professor, School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering – Co-chair (COE)
  • Jessica Garwood, Assistant Professor, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS)
  • Sam Logan, Associate Professor, School of Exercise, Sport, and Health Sciences (COH)
  • Chris Sanchez, Associate Professor, School of Psychological Science (CLA)
  • Inara Scott, Associate Professor, School of Marketing, Design, and Analytics (COB)
  • Susanne Stieger, Professor, Veterinary Clinical Sciences (VetMed)
  • Ashley Thompson, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Wasco and Hood River Counties (CAS Extension Services)
  • Heesung Woo, Assistant Professor, Forest Ecosystems and Society (COF)