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October 18, 2023

WPI receives $2M grant to build lab space for autonomous systems research

PHOTO | Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute The lab is being led by WPI professors Lee Moradi and Vladimir Vantsevich.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has received a nearly $2,000,000 grant from the Governor Maura Healey administration, through the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, to support research into autonomous systems.

The grant will be used to help WPI build a 10,000 square foot facility for research in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a Tuesday press release from MassTech. 

The research will focus on self-executed technologies to advance capabilities in a variety of industries including robotics, healthcare, and transportation, according to the press release. Autonomous systems are technologies that can function end-to-end without human intervention.The additional space will allow for testing of unmanned prototypes and simulations using virtual reality and augmented reality tools.

“Massachusetts has a deep tech and innovation legacy that has made us a hub for pioneering work across so many sectors, including autonomous systems,” said secretary of the Executive Office of Economic Development Yvonne Hao in the press release. “This world-class facility at WPI will help create jobs for a new generation of innovators and advance our knowledge of technologies that will drive the future of mobility. We are proud to support this cutting-edge work through MassTech’s Innovation Institute.”

Work in the lab will support early-career graduates launch into the workforce through partnerships with Massachusetts technology companies. It will also be the first academically-led unmanned vehicle research and development site in support of national initiatives, according to the press release.

“The establishment of WPI Autonomous Systems Lab will drive groundbreaking research and innovation in autonomous off-road vehicles that could be used in agriculture, construction, national defense, and even planetary exploration,” said WPI president Grace Wang in the release. “We are truly grateful that the state and MassTech Collaborative recognized the critical importance of this R&D facility that will enable new research frontiers, partnerships, and experiential learning opportunities, demonstrating that Massachusetts is once again at the forefront of advancing technologies that will transform mobility.”

The grant comes from the state’s Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program, which was launched in 2022.

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