Professor Harry Asada Awarded a $2 Million Grant to Develop Robotic Educational Tool, “Teach-Bot”

Monday, November 6, 2017

Interactive robot will teach workers about manufacturing robotics through a hands-on instruction and demonstration

By: Mary Beth O'Leary

"In early October, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker celebrated National Manufacturing Day at UMass Amherst by awarding grants through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2). “These awards will ensure the Commonwealth remains a leader in advanced manufacturing to spur job growth and train students for valuable career opportunities,” said Governor Baker.  Among the awards was $2 million in funding for Teach-Bot, an interactive robot that educates and trains manufacturing workers on robotics.

"Founded by professor of mechanical engineering and Ford Professor of Engineering Harry Asada, Teach-Bot is a table top robot outfitted with actuators, sensors, and embedded systems. Connected to the MITx online learning system, Teach-Bot can teach manufacturing workers about various aspects of robotics; how a robot is constructed, and how it can communicate and coordinate its actions with others. Furthermore, Teach-Bot can analyze learner input data and alter its instructions to better fit the learner in response to this data.

"...The three-year award from M2I2, called the MIT/Northeast Regional Robotics Innovation Collaborative (RRIC), will be managed in partnership with MassRobotics, an independent, Boston-based non-profit that acts as a hub for education and innovation in the robotics sector. The first two years of the program will focus on outreach in Boston and Cambridge, with expansion to the Worcester-area in year three. The project will work to develop and deploy Teach-Bot to help drive training of experienced manufacturing workers, to arm them with new skills to deploy, program, and maintain collaborative robots in the workplace.

"The potential Teach-Bot holds in enhancing worker education and promoting job growth is what attracted M2I2 to the project.

“A major driver of the M2I2 program is to create jobs within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through technology development, collaboration, and education, but also to increase training in advanced manufacturing skills,” said Ira Moskowitz, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Programs at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which oversees M2I2 with the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “Teach-Bot promises to train existing workers with little background in robotics, enabling them to take advantage of new, higher-skilled jobs within this rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape.”

"The next step in Teach-Bot’s development will be to get approval from the national Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute. Asada and his team will then spend the next three years developing Teach-Bot and deploying it in workplaces around Massachusetts and beyond."

Read the entire article here.