UT Receives Share Of $3.5 Million Robotics Grant

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee will receive $900,000 in federal funds to develop robots that work in areas too dangerous for humans, a UT-Knoxville robotics researcher said Friday.

 Dr. Mongi Abidi, an electrical engineering professor, said UT-Knoxville will share $3.5 million with four other universities and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for research on robots to move hazardous waste, work in nuclear power production, and defend against chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

 Funding for the U.S. Department of Energy Robotics Technology Development Program was approved this week by the Senate and House.

 “The robots we help create are being used in conditions that are undesirable or impossible for humans to work in,” Abidi said. “We help DOE develop the technology, and then private companies pick up pieces of it and fit it into the services they provide for utilities or other industries.”

 At UT-Knoxville, the funding supports a robotics laboratory, graduate students, faculty positions, and research on robotic sensing devices and three-dimensional imaging, Abidi said.

 The program funds research at the universities of Florida, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas on robotic manipulators, visualization and controls, he said.

 Abidi has headed or co-headed UT’s role in the DOE project since it began in 1986. He said technology developed in UT labs is making its way into private industry.

 For example, Remotec, a local robotics firm, is using imaging technology developed at UT, he said.

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 Contact: Dr. Mongi Abidi (423-974-5454)