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2008 MEXT Global COE

Global Robot Academia Program

Continuing from the previous issue of Campus Now, this issue will introduce the Global Robot Academia (Institute Leader: Professor Masakatsu. Fujie, Waseda University Faculty of Science and Engineering), a program which was selected for the MEXT's Global COE (Center of Excellence) program.

Robotic Research at Waseda

Waseda University began the WABOT Program in 1970 as a project spanning across different departments of our university. Since then, the WABOT Program has served as an educational and research institute for humanoid robots, as well as for robots which support medicine, nursing care, and daily life. The WABOT Program has formed a multi-layered group of researchers unlike any other in the world, assembling experts in the fields of machinery, information, materials, and the environment.

In 2003, the "Innovative Research on Symbiosis Technologies for Human and Robots in the Elderly Dominated Society" project was selected as a 21st Century COE program. This project has not only contributed to the fields of medicine and nursing care through robots which assist in medical operations, but has also raised internationally-acclaimed educational and research successes in element technology and foundations theory.

(*) WABOT is an abbreviation of "Waseda Robot". The name was given by the late Professor Ichiro Kato of the School of Science and Engineering, who is referred to as "the father of Japanese robot development".

Construction of systematic robot studies

As Japan heads towards becoming a super-elderly society, there are great expectations for the creation of a new industry that implements robot technology (hereafter referred to as RT) in the fields of medicine, nursing care, and support for daily life. However, this new industry has not yet been realized. At the same time, in order to apply RT to various social issues, it is essential to have the transfer of practical know-how as well as the support of academic theory. However, there is insufficient establishment of these essential factors because RT is an accumulation of several engineering fields, and there is currently no organized educational system.

In order to break through these problems, this program focuses on actual issues from a variety of lifestyle scenes. As part of this focus, the program aims to establish "M-Robotics (Methodical Robotics)", a field which clearly extracts the principles and system of the RT which will support society in the future.

Developing young researchers of an international level

In the past, partnerships with the Center for Intelligent Robotics (CIR), which is Korea's largest robotics project, and with Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA) Graduate School were formed through professional exchange and joint research that included students. This program will continue to strengthen these partnerships and to develop an international education environment and educational programs in order to develop a large number of young researchers with breakthrough ideas who have the ability to build a high level of academic intelligence and to develop the creative ability to generate pragmatic ideas.

Specifically, the program plans to implement the Global Robot Academia Program as a special curriculum for doctoral degree students. The program also calls for long-term deployment of students to overseas locations, joint holding of international summer schools with overseas partner organizations, construction of a double-degree system, development of a research environment that includes financial support, and the proposal of a variety of career paths through an international internship program.

Image of systematic robotics studies
Image of plan to develop professionals

*For details, refer to the Global Robot Academia homepage.(http://www.rt-gcoe.waseda.ac.jp/)