The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 17, 2009

Dem eyes funds for $4M man

Robot research can spark other technology, Carney says

LEWISBURG — As a member of the military and of Congress, Chris Carney says he knows first-hand the importance of technology that protects both soldiers and civilians — particularly in dangerous, urban environments.

That’s why the Navy Reservist is lobbying for $4 million in federal funds to support development of military robots at Bucknell University. The request tops the $800,000 federal earmark the Dimock Democrat obtained last year that helped to create the school’s robotics lab.

The project is just one of about 130, worth almost $300 million, that Carney’s office has endorsed for federal funding this year.

Carney’s office received more than 300 funding requests totaling more than $1.5 billion. Every request was reviewed, and chosen were those that Carney’s spokesman, Vincent Rongione, said make the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer money.

“We look at job creation, overall economic impact, geographic need and other important factors to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being invested wisely,” Rongione said.

Based on estimates from the past few years, he said about 10 to 20 of the projects may get the money being requested. They hope to know by late summer or early fall.

“I’ll support projects like this every time,” Carney said of the robotics program while touring the Bucknell laboratory Thursday. “That is exactly what we ought to be doing.”

Through new engineering opportunities and more work for machinists, an economic boost will obviously be given to Bucknell and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Fla., but the effects of a project like Bucknell’s, Carney said, are much more far-reaching.

“It creates synergies that expands to other technologies,” he said. He called it a “very small investment” to an extremely important project.

Several researchers from Bucknell and the Florida institute on Thursday addressed the challenges involved in creating robots that can be used in urban environments.

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