The Internet of (Robot) Things

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

By Naomi Shulman

Not many people understood the computer science and artificial intelligence research Tom Wagner ’00PhD did while studying at UMass Amherst. “When you’re doing doctorate research, you’re usually focusing on an unusual or novel thing,” Wagner points out. “But then the world evolves.” Since his time at UMass, Wagner has become a pioneer in a booming robotics and artificial intelligence industry. The projects he leads have brought robots into realms never before imagined.

A decade ago, Wagner was the chief technical officer of iRobot, the company that brought you the Roomba Robot Vacuum. The company also created innovative robots that save lives. iRobot’s PackBots were used by the U.S. military to hunt improvised explosive devices (a menace that has killed or maimed thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan). In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan, the company’s robots were deployed to explore areas that were too dangerous for humans.  Read more...

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