Networks of Robots and Sensors for First Responders

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The goal of this project is to advance networked multi-agent systems: control, self-organization, adaptation, and perception. We are developing algorithms that integrate communication in the control loop of a robot system and explore the synergies between communication, control, and perception to develop more capable systems. More specifically, our research addresses:

Control for communication and sensing
The control of robotic agents to maintain communication links or establish new ones, while obtaining the required sensory information and tracking sources.
Communication for sensing and perception
The fusion of information from heterogeneous sensors over the network, providing the required information for each agent to plan and control its mobility and providing remotely located human rescue workers with information through immersive displays.
Communication networks for sensing and control
The grouping, scheduling and routing of nodes to adapt to changing, adverse conditions while maintaining guarantees for control of mobility and for sensor fusion and integration.

We are especially interested in exploring these issues in the context of providing support for first responders. Humans have been called upon to function in progressively more complex and hostile environments resulting, in many cases, in unnecessary loss of lives. Today, the need to collect, collate and convey information effectively in this environment exceeds the state of the art in information technology. We envision a physical analog to the Internet---networks of computers that can actively sense, physically interact with, and reason about the world. While the Internet allows transparent access to information already online, this research will extend the paradigm by adding a paradigm to google for physical information, setting into motion robots and sensors that team together to acquire information and act on it. Such a capability will make a huge difference in environments that pose hazard for humans.

This project is a collaboration with Vijay Kumar (U. Penn) and Sanjiv Singh (CMU), as well as part of an international collaboration with peter Corke (CSIRO, ICT Centre, Brisbane).

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