York University Professor Michael Jenkin will lead the ‘interactive autonomy’ theme in the new NSERC Canadian Robotics Network (NCRN), which received $5.5 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of the $78-million Strategic Partnership Grant (SPG) announced Aug. 10.
NCRN is one of six networks ($33 million) and 80 projects ($45 million) from across the country to receive the funding, which invests in Canada’s brightest researchers to address challenges in areas including environment and agriculture, information and communications technology, natural resources and energy, and advanced manufacturing.
Jenkin and Professor John Tsotsos, both of York’s Lassonde School of Engineering, are members of NCRN which is centred at McGill University and directed by Professor Gregory Dudek. NCRN will work to bring together Canadian industry and academic excellence in robotics technology.
“Congratulations to all recipients and their partners. NSERC is proud of its role in convening Canada’s top scientists and engineers with a wealth of partners from industry, government and other organizations,” said Marc Fortin, vice-president, Research Partnerships, NSERC. “These fruitful collaborations are a testament to the power of great minds and expertise coming together to tackle challenges in targeted areas where Canada can be a world leader.”
The NCRN brings together an astounding team of Canadian robotics researchers, companies, and government players in a new initiative focused on robotic technologies with substantial commercialization potential. The network will coordinate work on robotics technology for smart Internet-enabled devices that drive down the road, swim underwater, monitor a shopping mall, or fly over valuable natural resources, all based on inter-related core science and technology.
Jenkin will lead the ‘interactive autonomy’ theme which includes members from McGill University, Simon Fraser University, University of Sherbrooke, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo and industry partners such as CrossWing Inc., Clearpath Robotics, Element AI and Huawei.
“This funding will help to position Canada as a leader in robotics research and provide substantial funding for training of the next generation of Canadian researchers in the field,” said Jenkin.
A second theme of the NCRN is resilient autonomy, which will be led by Professor Steven Waslander of the University of Toronto.
The two themes, interactive autonomy and resilient autonomy, are key technological areas that are both critical to the development of many classes of robotic systems and are strategically relevant to industrial partners.