Last Friday, June 24 – 2011, President Obama have a presentation at NREC @ CMU about the importance of manufacturing to United States, and the need to strengthen the area. To address this challenge three initiatives were launched. The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership – which is an industry-academia partnership to make manufacturing more agile through fasters transition of designs from the desk to delivery. The initiative clearly has some overlap in objectives with the DARPA Open Manufacturing Initiative. The ultimate objective is agile manufacturing of lot size – 1 products. Such an initiative has a clear potential to seriously impact economic growth and job creation in the US. The initiative is launched based on the fundings in the PCAST report on manufacturing
In addition the material genome project was announced, as an endeavor to allow US companies to do research on new materials at a higher speed and lower cost through use of advanced simulation methods.
Finally the use of robotics to grow the economy was introduced. It is clear that robotics has reached a level where it offers significant flexibility for rapid tooling and flexible manufacturing. To grow the potential of robotics and to make sure that US has a strong R&D base, a National Robotics Initiative (NRI) is launched. The NRI will be managed through NSF but has active participation of NIH, NASA, and USDA. The first call for proposals is the fall of 2011 and then annually thereafter. The NRI is the implementation of a research strategy based on the US Robotics Roadmap – From Internet to Robotics, that was sponsored by CCC and a result of a broad national discussion on robotics.
It is very exciting that there finally is a national robotics program in the US. To push forward an agenda in robotics some of the major stakeholders – RIA, RTC, AUVSI and a group of academics have created a National Robotics Roundtable to coordinate efforts to maximize impact.