New UofL Research Facility Will Help Shape The Future Of Robots

With a brand new space on UofL’s campus, a group of researchers and students will attempt to use robotics to “provide solutions for manufacturing, health care and logistics challenges.”

The Louisville Automation and Robotics Research Institute recently opened a 10,000-square foot facility at the J.B. Speed School Innovation Center on Arthur Street. LARRI — the only institute in Kentucky for automation and robotics research — started in 2020, first as a digital institute and will now continue with a physical space.

“This facility will provide space for collaborative ventures among students, faculty and community and industry partners and will help our faculty take advantage of nationally competitive funding opportunities and new cross-disciplinary educational programs,” said Dan Popa, director of LARRI and professor of electrical and computer engineering in UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering. 

Currently, LARRI is made up of 12 faculty members and more than 50 students. In a statement, UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said that this facility could have a significant impact on Kentucky’s economy. 

“In a state with so many innovative manufacturing businesses and in a city that is a leader in health care innovation, LARRI is a vitally important collaborative and research resource,” Bendapudi said. “And for our students, LARRI provides an opportunity to learn and practice with the emerging technologies that will allow them be leaders in engineering innovation.”

And Popa said that their intention isn’t to create robots that steal jobs from humans. 

“The theme is not robots replacing humans. It is humans and robots working together,” Popa said. “Humans do certain things; robots do other things. ARNA, the nursing assistant robot, will not replace nursing staff, but perform helpful basic tasks to alleviate overwork and stress and improve patient care.”

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