University of Southern California
A private, not-for-profit, non-sectarian research university, the University of Southern California (USC) was founded back in 1880, making it the oldest private research university in the state of California. In 1870, Judge Robert Maclay Widney, together with some public spirited citizens, dreamt of having their own university.
It took one decade after that to make this dream a reality, when the judge was able to form a board of trustees and got a donation of 308 lots of land from Ozro W. Childs, former California governor John G. Downey and banker-philanthropist Isaias Hellman. The donation provided land for the campus. In 1880, the school opened its door to 53 students and hired 10 teachers. Now the university has more than 33,000 students and has almost 3,200 full time teachers.
Located in one of the biggest cities in the world, Los Angeles, California, its development is almost parallel to the growth of Los Angeles, and the city greatly attributes several alumni who later become the city’s business leaders and professionals. Over the last decades, the university has experience massive growth thanks to its strategic location and also due to LA’s status as a global city.
Currently, the university holds the recognition of having the most number of international students in the country and is one of the leading private research universities in the world today. And being one of the leading private research universities, its USC Viterbi School of Engineering created the Center for Robotics and Embedded System or CRES in 2002. This interdisciplinary Organized Research Unit, or ORU, focuses mainly on the science and technology of an efficient, achievable and tough robotic system using broad and far-reaching applications.
At the center, the projects extend to the areas of service, humanoid, distributed, reconfigurable, space and nano robotics and at the same time a broad spectrum of applications which covers assistance, training and rehabilitation, education and entertainment, environmental monitoring and cleanup, emergency response and Homeland Security. Here, it is center’s vision to give a strong foundation for collaboration and opportunities for education and outreach projects.
Aside from CRES, the university also created the USC Robotics Research Laboratory still a part of CRES at USC, where it has large and increasing collections of robots. One of these is the PR2 Robot from Willow Garage. This robot is part of their PR2 beta program.
Another is the full bodied hydraulic humanoid robot that has 44 Degrees of Freedom, the SARCOS Humanoid. This humanoid is equipped with active vision system and two movable eyes. It is also embedded with 3D cameras, touch sensors and actuated hands. This robot is part of the lab’s quest for robot control, autonomous learning and human-robot interaction.