The US just moved a step closer to building an advanced robotics institute modeled on the hugely successful Fraunhofer Institutes. The proposed ARM or Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute is one of seven candidates moving forward in an open bid for $70 million funding from NIST for an innovation institute to join the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Previously funded institutes are for advanced composites, flexible electronics, digital and additive manufacturing, semiconductor technology, textiles and photonics.
The ARM Institute bid is being led by Georgia Tech and CMU, alongside several other universities, including MIT, RPI, USC, UPENN, TAMU and UC Berkeley. At a recent ‘industry day’ at UC Berkeley on May 25, an invitation was extended to “all companies, regional economic development organizations, colleges and universities, government representatives and non-profit groups with interests in advanced and collaborative robotics industry to participate in this initiative to ensure the competitiveness of US robotics and thereby enhance the quality of life of our citizens.”
Industry participation is critical to the success of the ARM institute. Industry is expected to provide matching funding to the NIST grant, but also strategically to provide guidance in setting the priorities of the initiative. Currently defined as:
- Collaborative Robotics
- Rapid Deployment of Flexible Robotic Manufacturing
- Low-cost Mass Production in Quantities of One
The vision is to create a national resource of manufacturing research and solutions, linking regional hubs and manufacturing centers. An important component of this vision is providing a pathway for SMEs and startups to connect with established industry and research partners.
To participate in the ARM Institute bid, industry leaders, SMEs and startups are expected to provide a non-binding letter of support before June 15. For more information see the ARM Institute. If the bid is successful, the ARM Institute may start as early as first quarter 2017.