Viterbi receives $10-million grant to develop robots


A research team partnered with USC received a $10-million grant from the National Science Foundation last week to build “socially assistive” robots that will aid developmental goals for preschool-age children, according to a statement released by the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The grant from the NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering was one of four new Expeditions in Computing awards.

The research team, led by investigator from Yale University, will attempt to develop robots to supplement the work of caregivers and teachers. The robots will be developed to establish long-term relationships with children to help them with developmental goals, such as reading and surmounting disabilities. The researchers plan to achieve their goal by modeling social interaction and creating new algorithms to give the robots a wide behavioral range.

Maja Mataric, a professor of computer science, neuroscience, and pediatrics, and vice dean for research at Viterbi, will serve as a co-principal investigator.

“I am thrilled to have the importance and promise of this work recognized by the Expedition Award,” Mataric said in the statement.  “The term ‘socially assitive robots’ was defined in our Interaction Lab at USC in 2004.”

The research team is made up of 17 principal investigators from USC, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford. The investigators’ areas of expertise include computer science, robotics, educational theory and developmental psychology.

  • Rich

    Will there be a robot wellness website as well?