Our own Jim O'Toole was in the press pool for the presidential visit to CMU and Obama's time hanging with Kilroy Ned. Here's his dispatch:
President arrived in back room of Carnegie-Mellon Robotics center in Lawrenceville shortly after 10:30 am. He wore light blue suit, white shirt, red patterned tie. At first stop he was greeted by Regina Dugan, director of DARPA, Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, and Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, program manager for project in which Local Motors developed combat support vehicle parked behind them through "crowd-sourcing" _ basically an Internet driven collaborative process in which outsiders compete to offer design proposals.
"So what've we got here,'' president said as he entered. After a briefing from the trio, he said, "That's really cool.'' He leaned into the driver's side window, but said, "They don't let me drive.'' Then he headed to an exhibit of a sewer and water pipe inspection robot, a tracked cylindrical gizmo about 15 inches long, whose name, it emerged, was Ned.
After some descriptions from three executives of Red Zone, a private robotics firm with CMU roots _ Ken Wolf, Sub Vallapuzha, Sam Cancilla _ Mr. Obama took the controls, a laptop touch screen, and said, "Let's see how Ned does.'' "He's sending back data as he's going through?'' Mr. Obama said at one point. 'This is pretty fascinating,'' he said later as he watched the torpedo-shaped device crawl through the pipe.
He turned to reporters, noted Red Zones ties with CMU, and government support of research there. " ... Government -funded research resulting in new products, new companies, new jobs.''
Then he was on to a computer display of Los Alamos labs software adopted by Procter and Gamble to improve their diaper manufacturing process, an innovation that a P&G executive said had saved the company $500 million. Then he headed to speech just before 11:00 a.m.