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Charlie Kemp

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I am a roboticist. I founded the Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech and co-founded Hello Robot Inc. with Aaron Edsinger. I earned my PhD at MIT with Rod Brooks as my advisor. I’ve had the pleasure of advising outstanding PhD students, contributing to published research, writing code, and teaching. I’ve also invented a few robots. Robotics initially attracted me as an approach to tackling the grand challenges of artificial intelligence (AI). Over time, I found the pursuit of AI without purpose unsatisfying. I joined Georgia Tech in 2006, where my research has focused on enabling robots to provide intelligent physical assistance in the context of healthcare. A full solution would likely include robots that are physically and socially intelligent in human environments, which would be consistent with notions of artificial general intelligence (AGI). The robots would also be intent on helping humans flourish, which is the type of success I’d like to see. In 2007, I founded the Healthcare Robotics Lab. I recommend you go to my lab’s website and look around. Through numerous studies, we’ve shown that mobile robots with arms (mobile manipulators) can meaningfully benefit people with disabilities in their daily lives. This points the way to a future in which intelligent mobile manipulators help people on a daily basis. There are challenges to overcome, but I’m optimistic. My lab’s research convinced me that mobile manipulators can improve people’s lives. Yet the versatile robots we used in our research seemed too big, heavy, and expensive to make it out of the lab. This inspired Henry M. Clever and me to invent a new kind of robot. In 2017, I co-founded Hello Robot Inc. with Aaron Edsinger to create a commercial robot inspired by my lab’s invention. In July of 2020, after 3 years of stealthy effort, Hello Robot Inc. revealed the robot Stretch. Stretch is a compact, lightweight, and force-sensitive mobile manipulator that achieves a new level of affordability. I’m optimistic that the research community forming around Stretch will help make the future of mobile manipulation fun, useful, and inclusive!

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