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Daniela Rus is the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. Rus’s research interests are in robotics, mobile computing, and data science. Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy for Arts and Science. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.




Safety Standards for Autonomous Vehicles

In this project, we aim to develop a framework that can ensure and certify the safety of an autonomous vehicle. By leveraging research from the area of formal verification, this framework aims to assess the safety, i.e., free of collisions, of a broad class of autonomous car controllers/planners for a given traffic model.

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Shrinking data for surgical training

Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a fiber-optic camera is inserted into a patient’s abdominal cavity to provide a video feed that guides the surgeon through a minimally invasive procedure. Laparoscopic surgeries can take hours, and the video generated by the camera — the laparoscope — is often recorded. Those recordings contain a wealth of information that could be useful for training both medical providers and computer systems that would aid with surgery, but because reviewing them is so time consuming, they mostly sit idle.

Wearable system helps visually impaired users navigate

Computer scientists have been working for decades on automatic navigation systems to aid the visually impaired, but it’s been difficult to come up with anything as reliable and easy to use as the white cane, the type of metal-tipped cane that visually impaired people frequently use to identify clear walking paths. White canes have a few drawbacks, however. One is that the obstacles they come in contact with are sometimes other people. Another is that they can’t identify certain types of objects, such as tables or chairs, or determine whether a chair is already occupied.

Cinematography on the fly

In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters — including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” — have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras. Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions. But a team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable.

3-D-printed robots with shock-absorbing skins

Anyone who’s watched drone videos or an episode of “BattleBots” knows that robots can break — and often it’s because they don’t have the proper padding to protect themselves.But this week researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) will present a new method for 3-D printing soft materials that make robots safer and more precise in their movements — and that could be used to improve the durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and more.The team’s “programmable viscoelastic material” (PVM) technique allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object to the exact levels of stiffness and elasticity they want, depending on the task they need for it.

“Flying Monkey” robot walks, grasps, and flies

A team that includes CSAIL researchers has designed a “flying monkey” robot that walks, grasps, flies, and clocks in at less than 1/10th of a pound. Modeled after the male stag beetle, the robot is part of a new class of robots capable of interacting with and modifying their surroundings, by using capabilities of legged and aerial robots.Part of the platform uses one of the world’s smallest quadrotor aircraft (“the Dragonfly”) and is powered by a single motor. Crawling, flying, and grasping allows the flying monkey to perform complex tasks such as hopping over obstacles, crawling under or through small openings, and picking up small objects.

Soft robotic gripper can pick up and identify wide array of objects

Robots have many strong suits, but delicacy traditionally hasn’t been one of them. Rigid limbs and digits make it difficult for them to grasp, hold, and manipulate a range of everyday objects without dropping or crushing them.Recently, CSAIL researchers have discovered that the solution may be to turn to a substance more commonly associated with new buildings and Silly Putty: silicone.At a conference this month, researchers from CSAIL Director Daniela Rus’ Distributed Robotics Lab demonstrated a 3-D-printed robotic hand made out of silicone rubber that can lift and handle objects as delicate as an egg and as thin as a compact disc.

Origami robot self-folds, crawls, climbs, swims, self-destructs

A team of CSAIL researchers have developed a printable origami robot that folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic when heated and measures about a centimeter from front to back.Weighing only a third of a gram, the robot can swim, climb an incline, traverse rough terrain, and carry a load twice its weight. Other than the self-folding plastic sheet, the robot’s only component is a permanent magnet affixed to its back. Its motions are controlled by external magnetic fields.“The entire walking motion is embedded into the mechanics of the robot body,” says Cynthia R. Sung, a CSAIL graduate student and one of the robot’s co-developers. “In previous [origami] robots, they had to design electronics and motors to actuate the body itself.”

Origami That Folds Itself

CSAIL researchers Daniela Rus and Erik Demaine, in partnership with Harvard University's Robert Wood, have developed a small resin-fiberglass sheet programmed to fold itself into three-dimensional shapes.

At this point, the object can only take on two shapes—but it's a major development in the burgeoning field of computational origami. And if you can teach a flat sheet to form itself into a multitude three-dimensional shape, the applications are endless. Read more about the research here, or check out the video below to watch the sheet in action.

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