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Helen Greiner: Roomba Maker Takes to the Skies

34241 R2D2-And-Helen
Helen Greiner: Roomba Maker Takes to the Skies.

That’s when Greiner’s new company, CyPhy Works, unveiled the latest members of her growing robot family — EASE and PARC. Like Roomba and Packbot, they’re both compact-sized robotic devices that are remotely controlled by their human users. But unlike their land-bound predecessors, EASE and PARC are taking to the skies, part of the wave of unmanned aerial vehicles, more popularly known as drones, being developed for military and, increasingly, commercial use. 

Greiner’s always been in love with robots, ever since her parents took the Long Island 11-year-old to see Star Wars and she first glimpsed R2D2 mixing it up on-screen. Fortunately, she had a natural aptitude for math and science, which she’d need in spades to complete her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and her master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science, both from MIT. She also had parents — a chemist-turned-businessman father and a nursery-school-teacher mother with an interest in science education — who nurtured those skills. 

Greiner still remembers going with her father and older brother to a basic programming class at the local Radio Shack in the late 1970s in the early days of computing. The young Helen “found it quite easy to catch on,” she recalls, more so than most of the adults populating the class.


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