SRI International’s Shakey the Robot to be Honored with “IEEE Milestone” at the Computer History Museum | SRI International

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SRI International’s Shakey the Robot to be Honored with “IEEE Milestone” at the Computer History Museum

MENLO PARK, Calif.— February 16, 2017 – Shakey the Robot, the world’s first mobile, intelligent robot, developed at SRI International between 1966-1972, will be honored today with a prestigious IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing. The IEEE Milestone program honors significant inventions, locations or events related to electrical engineering and computing that have benefitted humanity, and which are at least 25 years old. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization advancing technology for humanity.


Members of the original Shakey team will participate in a dedication event to be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.

“As the first mobile, intelligent robot, Shakey was groundbreaking in its ability to perceive, reason about and act in its surroundings,” said Bill Mark, Ph.D., president of SRI’s Information and Computing Sciences Division. “We are thrilled that Shakey has received this prestigious recognition from the IEEE as it is a testament to its profound influence on modern robotics and AI techniques even to this day.”

The event’s program will include the story of Shakey’s creation and a discussion of its significant and enduring impact on modern robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), navigation, and gaming. IEEE President Elect Jim Jefferies and IEEE Region 6 Milestone Coordinator and technology consultant Brian A. Berg will officiate the event.

As cast on a bronze plaque, the IEEE Milestone’s citation reads: “Stanford Research Institute's Artificial Intelligence Center developed the world’s first mobile, intelligent robot, SHAKEY. It could perceive its surroundings, infer implicit facts from explicit ones, create plans, recover from errors in plan execution, and communicate using ordinary English. SHAKEY's software architecture, computer vision, and methods for navigation and planning proved seminal in robotics and in the design of web servers, automobiles, factories, video games, and Mars rovers.”

The dedication event will feature an on-stage conversation moderated by John Markoff, historian at the Computer History Museum, author, former technology writer at the New York Times and winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. Markoff will interview original Shakey development team members Peter Hart, Ph.D., and Nils Nilsson, Ph.D., about the story of Shakey’s creation.

Markoff will then explore Shakey’s legacy when he is joined on stage by three important industry players: Steve Cousins, Ph.D., CEO of robotics companies Willow Garage and Savioke, who will discuss how Shakey’s “DNA” is embedded in robots he created at both start-ups; SRI’s Bill Mark, who will discuss fundamental issues raised by Shakey that are still on the frontiers of research; and Matthew Heverly, robotics researcher and Mars Rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who will explain how Mars Rovers navigate the Martian surface using Shakey’s seminal Shortest Path Algorithm.

The original Shakey robot is on display at the Computer History Museum where it is the centerpiece of the Artificial Intelligence portion of its “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” exhibition.  

Event sponsors for the dedication include SRI International, Savioke Inc., IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section, Berg Software Design and SMP Robotics.

About IEEE and the IEEE History Center

IEEE is the largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly-cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice in a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics.

Within IEEE, the History Center is part of IEEE Corporate Activities.  It is co-sponsored by Stevens Institute of Technology, where it is affiliated with the College of Arts and Letters. The mission of the IEEE History Center is to preserve, research and promote the history of information and electrical technologies. The Center maintains many useful resources for the engineer, for the historian of technology, and for anyone interested in the development of electrical and computer engineering and their role in modern society. The IEEE History Center is partially funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation.

About The Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours, and an award-winning education program.

CHM’s signature exhibitions are Make Software: Change the World! and Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, described by USA Today as “the Valley’s answer to the Smithsonian. Other current exhibits include Thinking Big: Ada, Countess of Lovelace and Where To? A History of Autonomous Vehicles. The Museum’s Exponential Center, dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation, and Center for Software History lead research in their respective fields and provide new insights on the forces of change that computing in all its forms has unleashed.

The Museum is one of only two locations in the world honored with an IEEE Special Citation to recognize its preservation and celebration of computer history, and its being home to the world's largest international collection of computing artifacts. The IEEE bronze plaque describing this distinction is located in the Museum's front courtyard.