FFATA: Sensing for Information Driven Exploration Systems (SIDES)
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In this project, fundamental science and technology will be developed for Mapping in Information Driven Autonomous Exploration Systems (MIDAS). Such systems operate in dynamic, spatially distributed, uncertain and hazardous environments where human presence may be undesirable. Examples are emergency response systems to building/forest fires, mine safety, environmental monitoring and structural health monitoring among many others. These systems consist of multiple sensors either in-situ or mounted on mobile robotic platforms whose objective is to explore and map the spatially distributed environments they operate within in real-time such that the information content regarding the environment is maximized. In this project, computationally efficient techniques, with guaranteed performance, will be developed to solve the mapping problem for dynamical spatial fields. Deliverables will include a suite of algorithms for the mapping problem including software, research publications pertaining to the same, engineering student education, and engineering research education for high school teachers. If successful, the ramifications of this work are many folds and highly significant: it is anticipated that the results will have applications ranging from autonomous robotic exploration to homeland security while leading to the discovery of fundamental science and technology at the confluence of estimation theory and computational intelligence. In particular, application to the wildfire prediction problem can avoid the billions of dollars worth of property loss as evidenced in recent wildfires. An "app" for tablets and smartphones will be developed to solve the online mapping problem on a handheld smart phone, which may provide an invaluable tool for first responders in such scenarios. The assimilation of K-12/undergraduate/graduate students, and high school teachers, in projects related to the research will disseminate the results of the project to a broad audience, and help engender interest in science and engineering.