For Immediate Release - January 13, 2017

Massachusetts Selected to Partner in Innovative Robotics Manufacturing Initiative

Private-public partnership will produce new technologies and opportunities for skilled workers in advanced manufacturing, and promote the national defense

BOSTON – Today the Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to announce that Massachusetts will be a partner in the nation’s first manufacturing innovation institute in manufacturing robotics. This is the seventh Manufacturing USA manufacturing innovation institute secured under the Baker-Polito Administration.

The $250 million robotics institute is a national public-private partnership, awarded through Manufacturing USA, a federally-authorized network of manufacturing innovation institutes. Federal matching funds for the manufacturing innovation institute will be provided by the US Department of Defense. Carnegie Mellon University convened this national Manufacturing USA team.

Massachusetts will anchor the northeastern node for the robotics manufacturing project, which will be known as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM). The ARM Institute will be led regionally by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Northeastern University, UMass Lowell, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and the independent, nonprofit robotics innovation hub MassRobotics.

The Commonwealth is supporting ARM’s collaborative research and development work with $5 million in matching funds. The Commonwealth’s matching contribution leverages $80 million in federal funds, awarded to the national project, and additional matching funds from private sector participants.

“Massachusetts’s strong participation in the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute further cements the Commonwealth’s national leadership in the development and commercialization of new advanced manufacturing technologies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committing significant matching funds to manufacturing innovation institutes, harnessing new technologies to build the nation’s strongest, most diverse advanced manufacturing sector. Through this work, and the partnership of Massachusetts research institutions and employers, we will build a prosperous, highly skilled manufacturing workforce, and create jobs across Massachusetts.”

“The Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute will make Massachusetts manufacturers more competitive, by helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers adopt and deploy innovative new robotics technologies,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The grit and intellect of the Massachusetts workforce is unparalleled. By adopting innovative new robotics technologies, we will advance the reshoring of American manufacturing jobs, and strengthen the Massachusetts economy.”

The Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute seeks to promote the national defense and advance the competitiveness of American manufacturing by developing and deploying smart, collaborative robotics technologies in manufacturing settings.

The ARM Institute will focus on robots capable of interacting with humans on manufacturing floors, and learning new manufacturing processes. The work of the manufacturing innovation institute will make these robots easier to program and deploy, while building more flexible capabilities into manufacturing robotics. Research conducted under the ARM Institute will develop technologies enabling human-to-robot and robot-to-robot collaboration, and will help establish common standards and testing protocols for integrating varied robotics technologies.

“MassRobotics is one of the largest robotics innovation hubs in the US, with a mission to help grow the next generation of robotics and smart connected device companies,” said Thomas Ryden, Executive Director of MassRobotics. “Utilizing our region's experience in developing robotics and intelligent technologies for manufacturing, we are excited to partner with the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute to help commercialize and transition collaborative robots to small and mid-sized manufacturers.”

“MIT has a strong history of innovation in robotics design, controls, and prototyping. From startup companies to partnerships with major industrial users to collaborative platforms like Rethink Robotics, MIT has helped catalyze the impressive robotics cluster in our region,” said Krystyn J. Van Vliet, Director of Manufacturing Innovation, MIT Innovation Initiative. “Partnership in this national Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute will continue to build a network that connects these innovative technologies with industry needs for both the people and the robots that are changing how the world manufactures products.”

“Northeastern is leading the next-generation research in robotics and other autonomous technologies that advance the human experience,” said Dr. Nadine Aubry, Dean of the College of Engineering and University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University. “Through our participation in the ARM Institute, we look forward to working closely with institutions in the US and across the world to make a tangible impact in this area.”

“UMass Lowell is the home of one of the most advanced robotics-testing centers in the nation, as well as Valkyrie, one of only three NASA humanoid robots of its kind in the world. We are proud to bring these resources and expertise, along with our excellence in advanced manufacturing research, to the nation’s first manufacturing innovation institute focused on robotics,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “This field holds tremendous promise for the economy and the creation of jobs for skilled workers in the Commonwealth and beyond.”

“Since becoming the first university in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in robotics engineering 10 years ago, Worcester Polytechnic Institute has made a significant global impact in robotics research and education,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin. “We are looking forward to combining our strengths in robotics with our tradition in manufacturing engineering to help propel the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute and play a transformative role in the manufacturing innovation of the 21st century.”

Manufacturing USA, formerly known as the National Network for Manufacturing Institutes, is a network of competitively awarded public-private innovation institutes. Manufacturing USA seeks to spur research into cutting-edge technologies that can be applied to advanced manufacturing processes. Bidders frequently form teams of universities across different states, with regional nodes supporting the lead bidder. The federal awards are leveraged several times over through a series of state and industry matches.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) provides a vehicle for matching federal Manufacturing USA awards, and helping Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies. Under M2I2, Massachusetts is convening a national effort to develop revolutionary fibers and textiles, and the state is a participant in regional manufacturing innovation institute nodes in photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, biopharma manufacturing, smart manufacturing, and rapid process intensification.

 

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