Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Learning Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), presented at the Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club, on Wednesday, October 26 at the X- block.
Rus said his interest in STEM came from past experiences, as he grew up in Romania under the dictatorship, where there was a policy that everyone should work with engineers in factories.
“For some time I went to work for a week a month in a factory that made spare parts for locomotives,” said Rus. “I learned how to use many machines. I learned how to think robotically.”
While a professor at MIT, Rus created AMOUR, which stands for “Autonomous Modular Optical Underwater Robot.” According to Rus, AMOUR was inspired by one of Rus’ children’s authors, Jules Vernes. The robot took three years to build, but was destroyed within three months of testing.
After the destruction, Rus said he was determined to rebuild AMOUR. Rus said that because of the rapid advancement of technology, the manufacturing process is faster.
“Big failures teach big lessons. It took three years to build the AMOUR robot, three months to build three copies of the AMOUR robot,” said Rus.
Rus also spoke about his research on the relationship between reprogrammable cells and robots. Rus said robots can be asked to reconfigure themselves for any task.
“[Through reprogrammable cells] a robot can be the best character for a job,” Rus said. “If the robot needs to screw from the floor. If the robot is too tall to reach, perhaps the robot will shuffle its cells to grow a longer arm to pick up the screwdriver.”
With so many reprogrammable robotics in use, Rus said he is interested in the future of the technology and how it will shape the various types of robotics.
“Each of us can dream of robots saving lives, improving lives and carrying out various tasks,” Rus said. “For me in the future with so many robots there are so many ways we can have fun.”
Rus said STEM is a field for everyone, an outlet for creativity and reward.
“STEM is one area [everyone] You can contribute,” Rus said. “You can be creative, and in places where the equipment and the signal are advanced, it’s a place where you can be very influential.”