November 24, 2020

CDC Awards $1.5 Million to Universities for Occupational Robotics Research

CDC has awarded a total of $1.5 million, which will be distributed over three years, to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to fund projects related to the development and use of collaborative robots, or co-robots. According to CDC, co-robots complement human workers and can help improve worker safety and reduce workers’ exposures to hazards.

Co-robots work alongside workers or other robots, and some wearable robots can be worn by workers. CDC is particularly interested in the technology’s applications in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. In healthcare, co-robots may reduce healthcare professionals’ workloads and risk of infection, or have roles in nursing education. Researchers at WPI plan to develop a more intuitive interface to allow nurses to operate robots remotely. In manufacturing, wearable robots may provide workers with mechanical assistance, preventing musculoskeletal injuries from heavy lifting. The UIC program will investigate and design a personalized robot worn on the lower body that will sense the wearer’s physical effort and respond accordingly.

The studies are being funded through the National Robotics Initiative 2.0 (NRI-2.0), a partnership between NIOSH and the National Science Foundation. Learn more about these research projects from CDC’s press release and about co-robots through the NRI-2.0 website.