Robotics at the University of Utah


Robotics is the intelligent connection of perception to action. The School of Computing and the Department of Mechanical Engineering are pleased to jointly offer the second graduate program in robotics in the US, with a curriculum that imparts fundamental knowledge about robotics and specific courses in perception, cognition, and action. Reflecting robotics' interdisciplinary nature, the Robotics Track faculty and the curriculum show equal involvement from the School of Computing and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. A varied research program addresses diverse topics such as intelligent agents, hybrid mobile robots, humanoid robots, haptic interfaces, and personal assistive devices.

The field of robotics has expanded tremendously since its early focus on industrial robots, and now includes very diverse topics such as autonomous vehicles, medical robots, smart sensor networks, microrobots, robot vacuum cleaners, sentry robots, and pet robots. Robotics technology is embedded in many devices which are not usually thought of as robots. A knowledge of how to model motion and an emphasis on real-time computation finds application in graphics, animation, and computer games. Due to the extraordinary breadth of disciplines that robotics encompasses, roboticists have been described as universal engineers, able to apply their expertise and adapt to a wide variety of topics.

Utah is world-famous for the robotics systems it has produced, including manipulators such as the Utah/MIT Dextrous Hand and the Sarcos Dextrous Arm, humanoid robots such as DB2, entertainment robots such as Disney figures and Jurassic Park the Ride dinosaurs, and virtual reality systems such as the Sarcos Treadport and Biport. Faculty expertise encompasses the entire theory-to-market stream, including ties to a UofU spinoff Sarcos, piloted by a participating faculty member, and a CAD/CAM system prototyping devices for Ford Motor Co. and the oil exploration industry. In combination with Utah's pioneering graphics program, robotics contributes to a strong research thrust in virtual reality.