Today, the Department of Defense awarded the 14th Manufacturing USA (NNMI-National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Program) institute – the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub. It is the eighth DoD-led institute. The ARM Institute joins the Manufacturing USA network in its collective effort to help revitalize American manufacturing and incentivize companies to invest in new technology development in the United States. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the winning consortium – comprised of state and local governments, industry, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from across the country – contributed $173 million, to be combined with $80 million in federal funding. The substantial cost matching reflects the importance the U.S. robotics community places on this institute and its value to U.S. businesses, academia, and state and local governments. The overall National Principal Investigator is Prof. Gary Fedder of Carnegie Mellon University. UC Berkeley is one of the main members of the consortium and will be a location of a Regional Manufacturing Center. The Principal Investigator from UC Berkeley is Prof. Tarek Zohdi, joined by a team comprised of Ruzena Bajcsy, Anca Dragon, Ken Goldberg, Roberto Horowitz, Masayoshi Tomizuka, Shankar Sastry and Paul Wright. UC Berkeley's unique strengths in advanced manufacturing, robotics and control and computational mechanics and materials will be leveraged in this research.
The ARM Institute, with founding industrial and academic partners in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, will organize the current fragmented domestic capabilities in manufacturing robotics technology and better position the United States, relative to global competition. The use of robotics is already present in manufacturing environments, but today's robots are typically expensive, singularly purposed, challenging to reprogram, and require isolation from humans for safety. Robotics are increasingly necessary to achieve the level of precision required for defense and other industrial manufacturing needs, but the capital cost and complexity of use often limits small to mid-size manufacturers from utilizing the technology. The ARM Institute's mission therefore is to create and then deploy robotic technology by integrating the diverse collection of industry practices and institutional knowledge across many disciplines – sensor technologies, end-effector development, software and artificial intelligence, materials science, human and machine behavior modeling, and quality assurance – to realize the promises of a robust manufacturing innovation ecosystem. Technologies ripe for significant evolution within the ARM Institute include, but are not limited to, collaborative robotics, robot control (learning, adaptation, and repurposing), dexterous manipulation, autonomous navigation and mobility, perception and sensing, and testing, verification, and validation.
The ARM Institute joins the Manufacturing USA institute network, a program with industry, academia, and government participants who co-invest in the development of cutting edge manufacturing technologies and capabilities. Each Manufacturing USA institute focuses on a technology area critical to future competitiveness – such as additive manufacturing, integrated photonics, or smart sensors. The federal government has committed over $1 billion, matched by over $2 billion in non-federal investment, across the Manufacturing USA network. Together, the Manufacturing USA institutes are already enhancing U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing – from helping Youngstown, Ohio attract over $90 million in new manufacturing investments and training 14,000 workers in the fundamentals of 3D printing for business to supporting companies like X-FAB in Lubbock, Texas upgrade to cost-competitive, next-generation semiconductors and sustain hundreds of jobs. The ARM Institute, the newest part of Manufacturing USA, includes: 123 industrial partners, 40 academic and academically affiliated partners, and 64 government and nonprofit partners. The official DOD announcement can be found here:
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This awards augments a previous NNMI Manufacturing Center that the UC Berkeley team won on Smart Clean Manufacturing recently in June 2016: