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CREATE: Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment
Head: Illah Nourbakhsh
Contact: Illah Nourbakhsh
Mailing address:
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

NSH A504
(412) 268 6723
Lab Homepage
News and Media
SpeckSensor Air Quality App Tracks Annual “Dirty Days”
September 02, 2016. A new feature for the SpeckSensor app enables users to see the number of “dirty days” when air quality has been unhealthy in a locale over the past year and to compare that number with other cities across the nation.
New Project Helps K-12 Students Become Fluent With Data and Technology
August 17, 2016. The future success of today’s students hinges more than ever on their ability to think critically, and creatively manipulate technology, media and data. Helping them achieve this level of fluency is the goal of a new project led by Carnegie Mellon University and sponsored by The Heinz Endowments.
CREATE Lab Expands Education Network Nationally
August 02, 2016. A program to empower students with technology by leveraging Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics and computer science talent with education expertise at partner universities is expanding beyond the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia region to include satellite labs in Georgia and Utah.
CMU, Airviz Will Make Air Quality Monitors Available to Libraries
March 15, 2016. Learning about the quality of the air you breathe should be as easy and inexpensive as borrowing a book from a library, and that’s why Carnegie Mellon University researchers plan to provide free Speck air quality monitors to 100 public libraries nationwide.
Nearby Nature Project Empowers Students To Monitor Their Environment
December 09, 2015. The Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab will launch an educational project next year called Nearby Nature that will enable middle school and high school students in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to study scientific phenomena in almost any outdoor space, in both built and natural settings.
Shenango Channel Provides Online Resource For Sharing Images, Data About Coke Plant
November 16, 2015. Citizens and government officials are using a new online resource, the Shenango Channel, that uses Carnegie Mellon University computer technology to share, compile and analyze images and air quality data related to a coke plant on Allegheny County’s Neville Island.
Web Tool Helps People Visualize, Make Sense of Large Complex Datasets
November 10, 2015. Datasets for everything from gene expression to employment demographics are growing so large and complex that automated methods sometimes seem the only way to glean knowledge from them. But a new web-based tool being developed at Carnegie Mellon University provides the option to keep human judgment and intuition in the analytic loop.
SpeckSensor App Compares Air Quality Locally and Across the Nation
November 02, 2015. A new smartphone app called SpeckSensor allows users to get up-to-date Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers for their current location and for other locales of their choosing, enabling them to quickly see if the air they are breathing is healthy and how it compares to other sites.
Faculty Will Share Visions Of Robots, A.I., and Big Data at “Summer Davos”
September 03, 2015. Carnegie Mellon University is sending the largest delegation of any university to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China, next week, along with robots and Big Data visualization demonstrations that will run throughout the three-day event.
“Make For Humanity” Campaign Launches in D.C.
June 11, 2015. A new campaign, “Make for Humanity,” begins this week, seeking to harness the excitement and creativity surrounding the growing Maker Movement to improve the world, one community at a time. Carnegie Mellon University’s Illah Nourbakhsh will launch “M4H” in a keynote address Friday sponsored by Infosys at the White House’s “Week of Making.”
Hear Me 101 Student Documentaries Premiere May 14
May 12, 2015. Students from three local high schools will screen documentary videos they produced through the CREATE Lab's Hear Me 101 Project at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Melwood Screening Room on Thursday evening, May 14, after which they will be available for online viewing at
Robotics Institute Spinoff Introduces Speck, Personal Air Quality Monitor
March 16, 2015. Speck, a personal air pollution monitor introduced today at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, will enable people to monitor the level of fine particulate matter suspended in the air inside their homes, helping them assess if their health is at risk. Developed at the Robotics Institute and now being marketed by a CMU spinoff company, Speck provides individuals with an unprecedented depth of knowledge about their personal exposure to particulates.
Nourbakhsh Book: Don't Let A Robot Take Your Child's Future Career
March 09, 2015. Illah Nourbakhsh says robots and artificial intelligence will increasingly displace people from many conventional jobs. It’s enough to make parents despair over their children’s career prospects, he acknowledged, and that’s why he’s publishing a pair of books, “Parenting for Technology Futures.”
Breathe Cam Lets Citizens Document Pittsburgh’s Air Pollution
December 03, 2014. A system of four cameras, called Breathe Cam, now keeps a constant watch on air quality over Pittsburgh, providing citizens with a new interactive tool for monitoring and documenting visual pollution in the air they breathe and even tracing it back to its sources. Funded by The Heinz Endowments as part of its Breathe Project, the camera system was developed and deployed by the CREATE Lab in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.
Chicago Public Library Lending 500 Finch Robots
May 12, 2014. Five hundred Finch robots, developed by the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab and marketed by BirdBrain Technologies, are now available for lending from the Chicago Public Library, thanks to a donation by Google Chicago in support of computer programming education.
Interactive Map Shows Income Inequality Using “Capital in the 21st Century” Data
May 07, 2014. Readers of the provocative bestseller “Capital in the 21st Century,” who want to take a closer look at the income database analyzed by economist and author Thomas Piketty can take advantage of a new online tool, Explorable Inequality, created by the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab.
Timelapse Wins Webby
April 29, 2014. Timelapse, the project from Time magazine that uses Carnegie Mellon's GigaPan Time Machine technology to explore 30 years of Landsat imagery of Earth, has won the People's Choice Award for Best Use of Video or Moving Image in the 2014 Webby Award Competition. The Webbys are international awards for excellence on the Internet.
Electric Garage Adds Tesla High-Power Charger for Public Use
March 31, 2014. A high-power wall connector for Tesla electric cars has been installed for public use at Carnegie Mellon University’s Electric Garage in Oakland, joining eight existing vehicle recharging stations. The garage at 4621 Forbes Ave. will host an open house to celebrate the addition from 4 to 7 p.m., April 4.
TIME Uses GigaPan for One World Trade Center Panorama
March 27, 2014. TIME magazine has employed the GigaPan technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab and NASA to produce a breathtaking panorama from atop the country’s newest and tallest skyscraper, One World Trade Center.
Carlow Launches Satellite of Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab
March 26, 2014. Carlow University has received a $205,000 grant commitment from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to establish a satellite on its campus of Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. The satellite will join three previously established CREATE Lab satellites at Marshall University, West Virginia University and West Liberty University in West Virginia.
Time Lapse GigaPan Holds Promise for Plant Research
March 04, 2014. Research by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Robotics Institute shows that high-resolution, time-lapse photography, such as GigaPan Time Machine, can help scientists study plant behavior over vast scales outside of the laboratory.
Finches Take Flight
December 09, 2013. BirdBrain Technologies, a Carnegie Mellon University startup, has released a flock of its Finch robots for Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 9–15. Developed at the Robotics Institute, the low-cost, tabletop robots are on loan to educators across the U.S. who are using them to help get kids excited about computer programming.
CMU Robotics Kits To Be Integrated Into PA, WV Middle Schools
October 07, 2013. An innovative program that introduces robotic technology into non-technical middle school classes will be used by suburban Pittsburgh and rural West Virginia schools in a federally funded research project to identify and nurture students with an affinity for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
BirdBrain Offers to Loan 1,000 Robots to K-12 Students
September 12, 2013. BirdBrain Technologies, a Pittsburgh startup that commercializes projects developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, will loan 1,000 of its Finch robots to school districts or educational groups during Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), Dec. 8-14.
Wilkinsburg students to screen documentary on their town
August 22, 2013. The CREATE Lab’s Hear Me 101 project this summer helped Wilkinsburg students produce a short documentary, “Wilkinsburg: The Way We See It,” which the students will screen at 6 p.m. Monday at Hosanna House, 807 Wallace Ave., Wilkinsburg.
Robotics Institute Helps Make Stunning Satellite Imagery Easily Accessible
May 09, 2013. Members of the public can now easily explore almost 30 years of Earth imagery from NASA’s Landsat through TIME Magazine’s new Timelapse project. The project is a collaborative effort between TIME, Google, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with the assistance of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.
Hear Me Launches School Climate Campaign
April 24, 2013. The Hear Me Project of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab will launch a new four-month campaign focused on the theme of School Climate with an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Big Dog Coffee, 2717 Sarah St., on the South Side.
Nourbakhsh's Book Suggests Humans Brace Themselves for Robo-Innovation
March 25, 2013. Robots already vacuum our floors, help dispose of bombs and are exploring Mars. But in his new book, “Robot Futures,” Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, argues that robots are not just wondrous machines, but a new species that bridges the material and digital worlds. The ramifications for society are both good and bad, he says, and people need to start thinking about that.
Robotics Institute and Google Create New Tool for Accessing Imagery
July 30, 2012. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, working with colleagues at Google and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), have adapted their technology for interactively exploring time-lapse imagery to create a tool that enables anyone to easily access 13 years of NASA Landsat images of the Earth’s surface.
Kit Can Turn Artwork and Crafts Into Robots
July 10, 2012. Almost anything that can be made with paper, paint and cardboard can be animated with an educational robotics kit developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. No technical experience is necessary to use the kit, but classroom teachers say it fosters interest in technology among students ages 11 and up. The kit, called Hummingbird, is now available for sale ($199) through a CMU spinoff company, BirdBrain Technologies.
GigaBlitz Will Document Biodiversity During Summer Solstice
June 13, 2012. A high-resolution image of a palm tree in Brazil, which under close examination shows bees, wasps and flies feasting on nectars and pollens, was the top jury selection among the images captured during last December’s Nearby Nature GigaBlitz. It’s also an example of what the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab and other organizers hope participants will produce for the next GigaBlitz, June 20-26.
Inside Science Explores GigaPan Time Machine
March 08, 2012. Inside Science Television, produced by the American Institute of Physics, features GigaPan and GigaPan Time Machine in a new video. The GigaPan system, developed by the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab and NASA, enables ordinary digital cameras to produce panoramic images and videos that can be interactively explored on a computer monitor.
GigaPan-like Photomosaic Reveals Prehistoric Elephant Behavior
February 22, 2012. Two members of the Fine Outreach for Science Fellows program used the photomosaic techniques promoted by the Carnegie Mellon University program to study the long trackway of a herd of prehistoric elephants, resulting in new insights into the social behavior of these creatures. The findings were published Feb. 22 in the journal Biology Letters.
Hear Me Project Connects USA Network with Clairton School
February 06, 2012. Students at Clairton High School who are working with the Robotics Institute's Hear Me project interact with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward in “NFL Characters Unite,” a documentary that premieres at 7 p.m. Friday on the USA Network.
Nourbakhsh Wins Carnegie Science Award
February 03, 2012. The Carnegie Science Center has named Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics, as the winner of the Catalyst Award in this year’s Carnegie Science Awards. The Catalyst Award recognizes excellence in promoting public awareness of scientific issues, and advancing science in society to bring about measurable, beneficial change.
Teaching Old (Toy) Robots New Tricks With Bluetooth Link
December 14, 2011. Toy robots and other gadgets operated with infrared (IR) remote controls can gain new capabilities — and perhaps some intelligence — by use of a device called Brainlink that enables a Bluetooth link with an Android-based smartphone or a laptop computer. The device, developed by Carnegie Mellon University spin-off BirdBrain Technologies, with assistance from the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab, makes it possible to control a robot, such as WowWee’s popular Robosapien toy, using a computer or Android smartphone.
GigaPan Time Machine Aids Discovery About Black Holes
December 12, 2011. With the help of GigaPan Time Machine, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology have discovered what caused the rapid growth of early supermassive black holes. GigaPan Time Machine, developed by the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab, aided astrophysicists Tiziana Di Matteo and Rupert Croft in analyzing MassiveBlack, a recreation of the first billion years after the Big Bang and the largest cosmological simulation to date.
CREATE Lab Releases New GigaPan Time Machine Data
November 17, 2011. The Robotics Institute’s GigaPan Time Machine project has released eight new data sets, including a 24-hour observation of the sun by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. Like previous Time Machines, the dynamic imagery can be explored interactively across both time and space. Read Scientific American’s story.
Citizen Scientists To Capture Images of Nearby Biodiversity
November 10, 2011. From a bike path in Montana to a backwater underneath a highway overpass in Austria, citizen scientists fanned out last June to capture high-resolution images for the first Nearby Nature GigaBlitz. Organizers are hoping for even broader participation in their efforts to document global biodiversity as they prepare for the second GigaBlitz, scheduled for the solstice week of Dec. 19-26. The GigaBlitz is organized by a trio of biologists and their partners at Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab.
CMU's GigaPan Magazine Focuses on Rural Haiti
September 07, 2011. Images of flattened buildings, muddy tent camps and desperate, homeless people have dominated the world’s view of Haiti since an earthquake shook Port-au-Prince in January 2010. But the September issue of the Robotics Institute's online GigaPan Magazine features interactive panoramas of the central Artibonite Valley, its villages and its hospital that provide an alternative view of Haitian life.
Kids Get Heard With Billboards
July 07, 2011. Billboards typically help motorists find a place to eat, a car to buy or a politician to support. But a new billboard campaign in the Pittsburgh area, part of Carnegie Mellon University’s “Hear Me” project, is giving young people a new way to communicate about bullies, school and other topics important to them.
GigaPan Magazine Features Civil War Sites
July 06, 2011. Armchair historians can interactively explore nine panoramas of Civil War sites in Gettysburg and other Pennsylvania locales featured in the July issue of GigaPan Magazine, an online publication of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.
CREATE Lab Wins Data Hero Award
May 10, 2011. The Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab, which recently unveiled its GigaPan Time Machine for exploring high-resolution videos, is the winner in the media category of the 2011 Data Hero Awards. The awards, announced May 9, were created this year by EMC Corp. to honor innovative uses of Big Data to profoundly impact individuals, organizations, industries and the world.
ChargeCar hosts open house, unveils prototype
March 28, 2011. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University unveiled an all-electric 2002 Honda Civic, the production prototype for their ChargeCar Electric Vehicle Conversion Project, and began taking names of people who want their own converted vehicle at an open house Friday, March 25 at the Electric Garage, 4621 Forbes Ave., in Oakland. U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle and Pittsburgh City Council member Bill Peduto were among those on hand. Watch the video.
Carnegie Museum Extends GigaPan Gallery Show Through July
January 04, 2011. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has extended through July its display of the juried gallery show from last fall’s Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science.
GigaPan Goes Major League
October 20, 2010. Major League Baseball has created a web site, TagOramic, that features GigaPan images of crowds at baseball post-season games that link to Facebook, where fans can tag themselves, their friends and celebrities in the images. The images are created with GigaPan Systems' EPIC Pro camera system. GigaPan technology was developed by NASA and the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab.
Science By The Billboard
September 30, 2010. A “bait ball” of salema fish swirling off the Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s largest Adelie penguin colonies basking on an Antarctic beach and ancient petroglyphs in northern Saudi Arabia depicting hunters and their prey are three of the arresting scientific panoramas selected for a juried gallery show in conjunction with the Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imagery for Science, Nov. 11-13.
ChargeCar Announces Contest To Optimize EV Performance
August 03, 2010. Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s electric car conversion project, ChargeCar, have announced a contest to find the most efficient methods for managing power in their electric vehicles. The grand prize of the ChargeCarPrize contest is an electric car.
GigaPan Imagery of Civil War Trails Now Online
April 02, 2010. People can now explore Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails online with the help of Carnegie Mellon’s GigaPan technology and Google Earth. The Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab produced gigapixel panoramas, or GigaPans, of Civil War battlegrounds, cemeteries, museum exhibits, monuments and other sites of interest to Civil War enthusiasts that can now be accessed by anyone via a Pennsylvania Tourism Office Web site,
GigaPan To Help Lakota Teens Document Their Community
September 03, 2009. Twenty Lakota high school students from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota will learn how Carnegie Mellon University’s GigaPan robotic camera can help them document their community during National Geographic’s Pine Ridge Photo Camp.
GigaPan School Exchange Expands This Fall
August 31, 2009. The GigaPan School Exchange, a 21st century “pen pal” program, established by Carnegie Mellon University’s Global Connection Program in partnership with the UNESCO International Bureau of Education (IBE), will expand this fall.
ChargeCar Batteries
Ben Brown shows us the ChargeCar Intelligent Battery System
March 25, 2011 - Length: 00:44
Lithium-ion Batteries
Jay Whitacre gives a quick overview of Lithium-ion batteries.
June 30, 2010 - Length: 1:15:00