NSF Funds New Effort in Robotics, Neuroscience and Electromechanical Devices

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced an $18.5 million grant to establish a multi-institution Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering located at the University of Washington. The center is to be launched this month and will be based in the Russel Hall on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington.

As per Director Yoky Matsuoka, University of Washington associate professor of computer science and engineering, the center will work on robotic devices that interact with, assist and understand the nervous system. Director Matsuaoka said that it would combine advances in robotics, neuroscience, electromechanical devices and computer science to restore or augment the body’s ability for sensation and movement.

The current grant is for funding the first five years of the center and there is a possibility of renewal of another five years funding. The center will be partnered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and San Diego State University. Other partners include Spelman College and Morehouse College, both in Atlanta, and Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. International partners are the University of British Columbia and the University of Tokyo.

The scientists at the center are to develop new technologies for amputees, and to help people with spinal cord injuries and people with cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease or age-related neurological disorders.

MIT’s Joel Voldman, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, who will be one of the center’s deputy directors, said that the center will leverage MIT’s strengths in electronics, robotics, microfabrication and neuroscience to dramatically improve our ability to usefully interface machines with humans.

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