The CRIM has adopted the following vision statement:
- “The Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (CRIM) at North Carolina State University will be recognized for the quality of its robotics and intelligent machines research in North Carolina, nationally, and internationally.”
- (Dr. Edward Grant, CRIM Director, 2000)
The achievement of this aspiration has indeed been a formidable task, because today’s robotics and intelligent machines are highly complex, innovative, “engineered” systems, that require a diverse set of engineering and science expertise to be truly successful. The research is also highly competitive.
Today, meaningful performance benefits and consistent quality of manufactured products are based on innovations in robotic and intelligent machine systems. Products are designed to be manufactured and maintained by such systems. Major robotic system technological challenges identified by the CRIM are in the domains of: (1) remote operation, where cognitive robotics becomes a necessity, and (2) scalability, where the control of micro-scale systems is an issue. Innovative applications these systems will include space exploration, search and rescue, and medicine and rehabilitation. Research in these fields is gathering momentum and this will continue for the next 20 years. These technological challenges have necessitated a radical upgrade in the research and development capability of the CRIM, by first bringing together a critical mass of very diverse research and development talent. Establishing this new critical mass of talent is a priority. The CRIM has indeed pursued the leading-edge; it has not, does not, and will not, follow the trends of today. To begin with the CRIM will outreach more widely, and collaborate with other university researchers, both in North Carolina, the United States, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. These collaborations will bring the required expertise to the CRIM over the whole robotics and intelligent machines spectrum that will raise the research quality of the CRIM to even greater heights, and keep it at the leading-edge.
The multi-disciplinary nature of the CRIM research is matched and complemented by the work of our industrial partners, who look to integrating CRIM research into their manufacturing and maintenance expertise, or manufactured products, or new products. More, our industrial partners are intimately involved in the core research of the CRIM, and with its affiliated faculty. However, to truly live up to the expectation that the CRIM will continue to be the worldwide resource for robotics and intelligent machines technologies it has become, the facilities needed to be expanded to include state-of-the-art test-beds, i.e., engineered systems, that can “demonstrate the principles” of CRIM core research. This goal has been the focus of the CRIM for the last two years.
Recently, new CRIM test-beds have been unveiled in the technology areas of: (1) cognitive robotics, a new platform for evaluating evolutionary robotic algorithms, (2) medical robotics, with new platforms for cell-in vitro fertilization and phonomicrosurgery, and (3) intelligent sensing and control, more-based wireless sensor networks for distributed robot sensing and control. These three unique capabilities make the CRIM a one-of-a-kind robotic system facility in North America. Collaborators and industrial partners have access to all CRIM technology through the NC State Office of Technology Transfer, i.e., through outreach and licensing. These test-beds, in being coupled with a highly sophisticated set of analytical capabilities, make the CRIM “a worldwide resource for robotics, control, and sensing technologies.”
As the needs of funding agencies and industry change, the role of centers in academic institutions, like the CRIM, must undergo continual redefinition. The establishment of a facility, of the type described above, is part of the CRIM’s current redefinition. This redefinition would not be possible without the flexibility of the administrative structure of the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. That is, the CRIM will support robotics and intelligent machines research throughout the UNC system. To achieve this goal the UNC administration must show complete trust in the vision of the CRIM, and in this regard make it possible for the CRIM to grow beyond its current facilities in Engineering Building II on the NC State University Centennial Campus. In order for the CRIM to support other UNC system institutions it may need satellite facilities.