This article is published in the February 2021 issue.

CCC Council Member Maria Gini Featured in University of Minnesota Article: Designing the Next Generation of Robots

Contributions to this post were provided by CCC Council member Maria Gini.

Maria Gini

Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council member and Distinguished Professor of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Maria Gini was recently featured in an article highlighting the work of U of M’s Minnesota Robotics Institute (MnRI).  

The Minnesota Robotics Institute is a unit of U of M’s College of Science and Engineering Department that brings together students and researchers from all over the world to pursue an education in robotics. The article highlighted a couple of ongoing and past projects that have come out of the institute including a robot used to detect autism in young children, underwater autonomous vehicles to identify and locate invasive weeds affecting Minnesota wildlife, and a prototype bot that can be used during the pandemic to assist healthcare workers by taking patients’ temperatures with a thermal camera.

One question in particular that Gini seeks to answer is whether or not robots can achieve human-level skills in comprehending and producing language. The key to answering this question will be understanding robots’ learning processes through studying their organization and memory structures in the context of speech. Although this project is still in the early stages, Gini already produced a prototype ‘chatbot’ for radio stations, that will answer listeners’ questions such as identifying the song that just played. In addition, she just finished a two-year project designing a robot that will store information from its conversations and respond or remind speakers of tasks they’ve previously mentioned.

Gini is a member of the newly created CCC Technology for a Distributed, Connected Life Task Force, which has many of the similar goals of improving human life through technology. She is also a recipient of the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award. This is an exciting time for research in robotics, with tons of opportunities and resources for implementation. We look forward to seeing what the people of MnRI will come up with next. See the full article here.