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Antal K. Bejczy, Pioneer in Robotics Technology, to Receive 2009 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award

POSTED 05/04/2009

Telerobotics Work Has Had Impact Both in Space and on Land
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (30 April 2009) – Antal K. Bejczy, a scientist whose research and development work has led to many innovations in robotics and automation, is being honored by IEEE with the 2009 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association.

The award, sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, recognizes Bejczy for leadership and sustained contributions to a broad set of innovative robotic and automation techniques applicable to space research and on Earth. The award will be presented on 16 May 2009 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Kobe, Japan.

Bejczy has made unique and fundamental contributions to the understanding and use of robotic human–machine interfaces, including novel and important enhancing roles of automation. His visionary work in robotics and related automation at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the 1970s through the 1990s pioneered the development of several innovative robot components such as “smart hands” with “smart sensors” and a novel telerobotic system using a general-purpose force-reflecting hand controller (FRHC) for remote robot arm control. He also augmented the visual feedback in the control station with calibrated computer graphics images (CCGI) of a work scene. The FRHC provides a “sense of touch” feeling to the operator when the remote robot hand is in contact with objects, and the CCGI serves as a preview or predictive display under communication time delay and also can provide synthetic views of work scene details not available in existing TV camera views.

Bejczy was the principal investigator of a space shuttle flight experiment using a force-moment sensor enhanced “hand” on the space shuttle arm, which was performed successfully in 1994 on the Space Shuttle Columbia. This increased the arm’s dexterity and alignment accuracy, provided the operators with a sense of touch and allowed for the use of more compact handles on shuttle payloads. This led to NASA requiring the implementation of force-torque sensing capability on future space shuttle robot arms.

Although Bejczy’s research and development was primarily motivated by and intended for space applications, it also led to other functions such as the JPL design of a precise and smooth microsurgical system, and the development of the da Vinci surgical robot system by Intuitive Surgical, Inc., in the 1990s, which offers less-invasive procedures in many surgical cases. His work also has applications in the nuclear industry.

An IEEE Life Fellow, Bejczy was president of the IEEE Council on Robotics and Automation in 1987 and helped move it to Society status, later serving as a member of the Society’s governing board. He has received several IEEE awards, including the Pioneer in Robotics and Automation (2004) and Distinguished Service (2007) awards, and many NASA awards, including the Exceptional Service Medal and Group Achievement Award (both 1994). Bejczy received his bachelor’s degree from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary, and his master’s and doctorate from Oslo Science University, Norway. Bejczy retired as a senior research scientist from JPL in 2001, where he had worked since 1969, and continues lecturing and consulting in robotics and automation.

About IEEE

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.), the world’s largest technical professional association, is commemorating its 125thanniversary in 2009 by “Celebrating 125 Years of Engineering the Future” around the globe. Through its more than 375,000 members in 160 countries, IEEE is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed nearly 900 active industry standards. The organization annually sponsors more than 850 conferences worldwide. Additional information about IEEE can be found at