Rodney Brooks

Speaker and 2023 IEEE Founders Medal Recipient

Rodney Brooks is a robotics visionary. Early on, he saw the future of robotics, then found ways to create that future and bring robots to everyday life. The impact of his work is found everywhere, from the research lab to the consumer market, from the living room to the planet Mars. Brooks is also an entrepreneur, and founder of three trail-blazing companies: Rethink Robotics, Robust AI, and iRobot (the first successful service robotics company). One early iRobot product, Grendel, led directly to NASA’s Sojourner Mars rover. iRobot’s groundbreaking PackBot reconnaissance and disposal robot changed how bomb disposal is conducted. It was the most widely adopted man-portable robot deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving thousands of lives. It even helped with the immediate aftermath of the tsunami at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan in 2011. On the domestic front, iRobot’s Roomba is the top-selling vacuum cleaner in the U.S. and has forever changed how people think about robots. Recently, Brooks has focused on building robots for manufacturing. His Baxter and Sawyer industrial robots are safe, can learn by humans showing them how to do tasks, and can cope with variations on the assembly line, unlike any other industrial robot. An IEEE Life Fellow, Brooks is the Panasonic Professor of Robotics (emeritus), at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.