FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off Worldwide

Robotics game Breakaway unveiled to audience of high schoolers

5 min read

19 January 2010—Look out, sports fans. Here come the robots! On January 9, at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, in Brooklyn, 37 area high school teams joined hundreds of other teams via satellite feed to find out what this year's FIRST robotics challenge would be. Courtesy of NASA, the kickoff event was piped in live to 57 locations around the world from Manchester, N.H., where FIRST is based.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a high school robotics competition founded 18 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, who wanted to use the sports and entertainment model to get kids excited about science and technology. His idea was "to steal from the playbook of sports…to change the perception of a whole generation of kids." Each year, a new design challenge tests budding engineers' creativity, skills, and teamwork.

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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