Matthew T. Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, has won an award for his "pioneering contributions to the fundamental understanding of the mechanics of robotic manipulation and to graduate education in robotics."
The Robotics and Automation Society, which bestowed Mason with its annual Pioneer Award, is part of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE). So while the monetary prize for the lifetime achievement award is only $2,000, a lot of prestige comes with the plaque he was given over the weekend.
Mason's body of work includes robotic juggling, legless robotic travel, robotic locomotion, handless robotic manipulation of objects (robot soccer), and robotic origami. Mason's famous robotic origami project, in which robots build origami cranes from paper, was lauded for the progress it made in developing robotic agility with soft objects.
Mason also wrote the book "Mechanics of Robotic Manipulation."
But the general public will likely remember Mason for something else entirely. With the help of Mason--and under Jim Morris, who was computer science school dean at the time--Carnegie Mellon opened the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003.
The hall of fame honors both real and fictional robots as a way to engage public interest in robotics and engineering. While the Robot Hall of Fame technically rewards the robots themselves and not their creators, Mason would be a likely candidate if the rules change.
Mason, who is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the IEEE, earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate in computer science and artificial intelligence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He has been a Carnegie Mellon faculty member since 1982.
For more insights on his work and thoughts on robotics, read CNET's Q&A with Mason.