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Bernard Roth, Robot Design Expert, to Receive 2012 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award

Pioneered Concepts That Have Shaped the Field of Robotics and Impacted Today’s Articulated Robotic Devices

26 April 2012 – Bernard Roth, a leader in the field of robotics and automation whose pioneering contributions to robot kinematics and design shaped the field and provided the foundation for the advanced capabilities seen in today’s robotic devices, is being honored by IEEE with the 2012 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization.

The award, sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, recognizes Roth for fundamental contributions to robot kinematics, manipulation and design. The award will be presented on 16 May 2012 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in St. Paul, Minn.

With a career that has spanned practically the lifetime of the robotics field, Roth’s steadfast commitment to advancing robotics has influenced and provided inspiration to generations of robotics researchers around the world. Roth’s landmark work at Stanford University during the 1960s on kinematics and manipulation of computer-controlled devices provided many of the formulations used for designing and controlling today’s robotic systems. Robot kinematics is the study of robot motion concerning the position, velocity and acceleration of the links/movable parts of a robotic device, such as within a manipulator arm. Roth has continued to evolve the field with innovative theories and applicable hardware, including the first concept of a snake-like robot, robotic arms for industrial use and grasping concepts for multifingered robotic hands.

Roth’s foundational work on spatial linkage synthesis in 1967 provided a comprehensive theory that would impact robotics design. This award-winning work can today be visualized via virtual reality to spatially reveal critical geometries of fixed and moving congruencies of a device. This work led to development of the spatial curvature theory for mixed-motion design specifications for application to robots. In 1979, Roth co-authored (with O. Bottema) “Theoretical Kinematics,” which still serves as a solid reference on robot kinematics. Considered by one reviewer to be the best kinematics book of the century, this book also introduced robotics researchers to screw theory, which had important implications for improving compliant motion in robotic devices.

Roth and his students at Stanford have made many important contributions to scientific and industrial applications of robotics. With D.L. Pieper, he developed methods fundamental to the coordination software used for industrial robots. With J. Rastegar and V. Scheinman, he developed the first continuous curvature (snake-like) robot. Roth supervised Scheinman’s development of the Stanford Arm, which led to commercially successful industrial robots. Working with K.J. Salisbury and J.J. Craig, Roth developed the original grasp matrix for multifingered hands, which resulted in the development of the Stanford/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Hand in 1981. Roth’s most recent work focuses on design and coordination of manipulators with kinematic and dynamic isotropic properties and new generations of human-friendly robot design.

Roth has been honored with numerous awards including the Joseph F. Engleberger Award for Robotics (1986), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Melville Medal (1967), Machine Design Award (1984), Outstanding Design Educator Award (2000), the IEEE Pioneer in Robotics Award (2000), the Applied Mechanics & Robotics Conference Lifetime Achievement Award and five best-conference paper awards from ASME. Roth received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from City College of New York, N.Y. and his master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, New York, N.Y. Roth is currently the Rodney H. Adams Professor of Engineering at Stanford University, Calif. and the academic director of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.


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