Daniela Rus, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) received the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Award for Education at a special ceremony on 5 April 2017.
The award is named for Joseph F. Engelberger, known throughout the world as the ”father of robotics.” Engelberger was founder and president of Unimation, Inc., the world's first industrial robot manufacturer. The Engelberger Robotics awards are presented to individuals for excellence in technology development, application, education and leadership in the robotics industry. Winners receive a $5,000 honorarium and commemorative medallion with the inscription, "Contributing to the advancement of the science of robotics in the service of mankind." The awards recognize outstanding individuals from all over the world. Since the award’s inception in 1977, it has been bestowed upon 124 robotics leaders from 17 different nations.
Daniela Rus is recognized for her leadership as a researcher, innovator and educator in the field of robotics. Her research group, the Distributed Robotics Lab, has developed modular and self-reconfiguring robots, systems of self-organizing robots, networks of robots and sensors for first-responders, mobile sensor networks, techniques for cooperative underwater robotics and new technology for desktop robotics. They have built robots that can tend a garden, bake cookies from scratch, cut a birthday cake, fly in swarms without human aid to perform surveillance functions and dance with humans. The lab has also worked on self-driving golf carts, wheel chairs, scooters, and city cars with the objective of reducing traffic fatalities and providing technologies for personal mobility for the elderly population. Companies such as iRobot and Boeing have commercialized innovations drawn from Dr. Rus’ research. She is the first woman to serve as director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and its predecessors the AI Lab and the Lab for Computer Science.