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Toshio Fukada, Pioneer of Miniaturized Robotics, to Receive IEEE Robotics and Automation Award

POSTED 04/21/2010

Contributions Have Impacted Industrial, Medical and Potential Personal Robot Applications
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Toshio Fukuda, an international leader in the field of robotics and automation for his groundbreaking work on intelligent and miniature robotics systems, is being honored by IEEE with the 2010 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 Fukuda for leadership and pioneering contributions to intelligent robotic systems and micro- and nanorobotic systems. The award will be presented on 6 May 2010 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Anchorage, Alaska.

Intelligent robotic systems involve robots or machines that learn from their environment and adapt their behavior accordingly in pursuing a goal or objective, compared to robots that are preprogrammed for specific functions and cannot handle an unexpected event.  As intelligent robotics technology improves, robots can find applications beyond industrial settings and move into the home and general workplaces. Micro- and nanorobotics deal with miniature robotics systems that can be used alone or in large numbers to explore environments that are too small or too hazardous for larger machines or even for humans. Military and medical applications can benefit from micro- and nanorobotic devices. The systems developed by Fukuda during his over 30 years of research are considered milestone contributions in these areas of robotics.

Among his many contributions to intelligent robotics, Fukuda developed brachiation controllers, which are important for providing more natural movement in robots. Based on an ape’s brachiation (the pendulum-like movement involved when swinging from tree limb to tree limb), Fukuda and colleagues have addressed “swing locomotion” and “swing up” behaviors resulting in a robot capable of continuous movement over several rungs of a ladder.

Fukuda has pioneered microrobotics technology including the microsensors and microactuators that make the miniature systems possible. His medical intravascular microsurgery simulator has been commercialized as an important aid to medical technology. As robotics devices become even smaller, Fukuda has worked on three-dimensional manipulation of carbon nanotubes for nanosensors and nanoactuators, with implications for nano-biotechnology applications. Among their many uses, carbon nanotubes play an important role in localized and efficient drug delivery into the human body. Fukuda has studied how a nanorobotic manipulation system can be used for sample preparations and cell manipulation/evaluation using carbon nanotubes.

An IEEE Fellow and Fellow of the Society for Instrument Control Engineers, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Robotics Society of Japan, Fukuda has helped advance robotics and automation technology by founding and organizing many conferences on emerging topics. He was the founding president of the IEEE Nanotechnology Council in 2002 and has also served as president of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and director of IEEE’s Division X (systems and control). Fukuda’s many honors include the Science and Technology Award from the government of Japan (2005), a Distinguished Service Award (2005) and Pioneer Award (2004) from the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, a Humboldt Research Prize (2003) and an IEEE Third Millennium Medal (2000).  He received a bachelor’s degree from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Tokyo, Japan, all in engineering. Fukuda is currently a professor in the Department of Micro-Nano Systems Engineering at Nagoya University, Japan, where has worked since 1989.

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