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CHIPS Articles: Brilliant at Any Age: ONR Researchers, Robots and MIT

Brilliant at Any Age: ONR Researchers, Robots and MIT
By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research - September 7, 2016
ARLINGTON, Va. — Three researchers sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) are being recognized as outstanding innovators by the MIT Technology Review-which is published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to show how the world is being dramatically shaped by new technology.

The talented trio was included among the 2016 "35 Innovators Under 35" (LINK: and "Seven over 70," (LINK: which are annual lists spotlighting scientists, engineers and inventors under the age of 35 and over 70, who are conducting groundbreaking research in various disciplines.

The awards span a diversity of fields-including robotics, biotechnology, materials, computer hardware, energy, transportation, communications and the Web-and celebrate the development of new technology or the creative use of current technology to solve problems.

The honorees under 35 include:

  • Dr. Nora Ayanian, assistant professor, University of Southern California. Ayanian is sponsored by ONR's Science of Autonomy program. She studies how groups of people work together to complete large, complex tasks. Under her ONR effort, she has developed new approaches to support long-duration deployments of autonomous systems by using robots that can share and deliver energy and other resources in the field.
  • Dr. Sergey Levine, assistant professor, University of California, Berkeley. Levine is a 2016 winner of ONR's Young Investigator Program, a prestigious grant awarded to scientists and engineers with exceptional promise for producing creative, state-of-the-art research that appears likely to advance naval technology. Levine's breakthrough work in robotic manipulation and mobility falls within the scope of ONR's Human-Robot Interaction program.

The scientist showcased in the "Seven over 70" list is Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Bajcsy is a pioneering roboticist whose research focuses on artificial intelligence, computational biology and biosystems. She is sponsored by an ONR Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative studying how teams of humans and autonomous systems could one day work together. This includes new ways of supporting effective and safe interaction between people and autonomous vehicles, assistive devices and robots.

"Seeing several ONR performers included in these prestigious lists is rewarding and exciting," said Marc Steinberg, an ONR program manager who oversees the research programs that sponsor Ayanian and Bajcsy. "Our performers are creating new opportunities for collaboration and dialogue-across disciplines and fields of study that may open up whole new research directions. This exchange of new ideas and innovations will ultimately benefit future Sailors and Marines, who may find themselves working side by side by autonomous and robotic systems in ways we are only just starting to imagine."

Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

Nora Ayanian. Photo courtesy of MIT Technology Review.
Nora Ayanian. Photo courtesy of MIT Technology Review.

Sergey Levine. Photo courtesy of MIT Technology Review.
Sergey Levine. Photo courtesy of MIT Technology Review.

Ruzena Bajcsy. Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ruzena Bajcsy. Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania.
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