We first reported on the CRA/CCC's plan to produce a research roadmap for robot technology back in February. The Computer Research Organization (CRA) is a consortium of 200 North American Universities. They developed the roadmap, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, in cooperation with a wide range of businesses. The CRA's blog reports the roadmap is now complete. It starts on depressing but unsurprising note.
Unfortunately, the United States lags behind other countries in recognizing the importance of robotics technology. While the European Union, Japan, Korea and the rest of the world have made significant R&D investments in robotics technology, the U.S. investment, outside unmanned systems for defense purposes, remains practically non-existent. Unless this situation can be addressed in the near future, the United States runs the risk of relinquishing its ability to globally compete in these emerging markets putting the nation at risk of having to rely on the rest of the world to provide a critical technology that our population will become increasingly dependent upon.
The good news is that the report includes a detailed roadmap showing where the US is behind and what types of research are needed to get the country's robotics businesses back on track. Specific roadmaps are provided for automation, medical and healthcare robots, and service robots. Here's a small sampling of the 15 year goals recommended in the roadmap:
- Neurologically controlled exoskeletons
- Legged locomotion using 50% the power of biological systems
- 50cm ornithopter robots with 10x cargo capacity and 30 day endurance
- artificial autonomous bacteria robots
- a 100mg battery exceeding 500 kJ/kg
- wearable sensor/actuator skin for prosthetics
The report also offers strategic findings about the state of technology in robot-related fields. For more, read the full 94 page report: A Roadmap for US Robotics: From Internet to Robotics (PDF format).