Director of AI laboratory at MIT speaks to WiSTEM club – The Sagamore

Daniela+Rus+gave+a+speech+to+the+WiSTEM+club+about+her+journey+and+research+in+the+world+of+science+and+robots+on+Wednesday%2C+oct.  +26.


Daniela Rus gave a speech to the WiSTEM club about her journey and research in the world of science and robots on Wednesday, October 26.

Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), presented to the Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club on Wednesday, October 26 during X-block.

Rus said her interest in STEM was sparked by experiences from her past, as she grew up in Romania under a dictatorship, where there was a policy requiring everyone to work with machines in factories.

“For a while I went to work for a week every month in a factory that made spare parts for locomotives,” said Rus. “I learned how to use many machines. I learned how to think about robotics.”

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After Rus became a professor at MIT, Rus built AMOUR, which stands for “Autonomous Modular Optical Underwater Robot”. According to Rus, AMOUR was inspired by one of Rus’ childhood authors, Jules Vernes. The robot took three years to build, but was destroyed within three months of testing.

After the destruction, Rus said she was determined to rebuild the AMOUR. Rus said because of rapid advances in technology, the rebuilding process was much faster.

“Great failures teach us great lessons. It took three years to make the AMOUR robot, and three months to make three copies of the AMOUR robot,” Rus said.

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Rus also spoke about her research regarding the relationship between reprogrammable cells and robots. Rus said they could be applied to robots to re-configure themselves for all tasks.

“[Through reprogrammable cells] a robot might have the best form for a task,” Rus said. “Suppose the robot needs a screwdriver from above on a shelf. If the screwdriver is too high to reach, then maybe, the robot will remix its cells to grow an extra long arm to get the screwdriver.”

With many reprogrammable cellular robots already in use, Rus said she is excited about the future of technology and how it will be shaped by a wide variety of robots.

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“Each of us could dream of robots that save lives, improve lives and perform various tasks,” said Rus. “To me this future with many robots brings us so many possibilities and the possibility to have so much fun.”

Rus said that STEM is a field for everyone, and that it is an outlet for innovation and reward.

“STEM is a place where [everyone] can contribute,” said Rus. “You can be creative, and given the areas where devices and coding have advanced, it’s a place where you can really empower yourself.”


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