Saturday, November 15, 2008

US Navy Funded 'Nexi' Robot Picked for Time Magazine's "Best Inventions of 2008"

Nexi, the humanoid, is robot funded in part by the Office of Naval Research. (Uncredited courtesy photo.)

Focus on Defense:

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 15, 2008 -- Nexi, the humanoid robot, is the result of the cutting-edge technology funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) being developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.

Ranked 17th on Time Magazine's "Best Inventions of 2008", Nexi is an MDS robot – mobile, dexterous, social. It can move around on wheels (mobile), pick up objects (dexterous) and express a range of humanlike facial emotions (social). The MDS project is one indicator that ONR continues to be one of the premier places to go for support of scientific discovery and invention.

ONR's Program Officer, Dr. Thomas McKenna, is credited with identifying the value of ONR funding this revolutionary research.

"The Nexi MDS robot illustrates that a facial expression and affective computing open up an immediate channel of communication with humans that will be important in the development of human-robot interaction technologies. This directly supports peer-to-peer teaming of humans and autonomous systems," he said.

Nexi is funded in part under ONR's Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) award. The basis of the award is to develop a novel class of robots that can engage in sophisticated forms of peer-to-peer teamwork with humans in uncertain environments. Robotic or unmanned vehicle systems are frequently designed to perform specific tasks without a focus on how users would interact or collaborate with them. Nexi provides what may be a very powerful approach to help humans better understand and interpret autonomous systems behaviors.

The Office of Naval Research manages science and technology research for the Navy and Marine Corps. ONR sponsors basic and applied research in oceanography; advanced materials; sensors; robotics; biomedical science and technology; electronics; surveillance; mathematics; manufacturing technology; information science; advanced combat systems; and technologies for ships, submarines, aircraft, ground vehicles.

For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit

(Report from an Office of Naval Research Corporate Strategic Communications news release.)

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