University of California, Riverside

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Kassas Receives $175K Grant from the NSF

Professor Kassas Receives $175K Grant from the NSF

Professor Kassas Receives $175K Grant from the NSF

May 2, 2016

Professor Zak Kassas, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a two-year, single PI $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant will fund research in optimal information gathering in unknown stochastic environments. 


Future autonomous systems will be tasked with missions such as search, rescue, surveillance, reconnaissance, mapping, farming, fire fighting, and transportation. These systems will operate in unfamiliar areas with minimal or no human interaction for prolonged periods of time. The luxury of building prior detailed maps of these environments could be (1) prohibitive (e.g., disaster areas), (2) impractical (e.g., signal landscapes and congested downtowns), or (3) economically not viable (e.g., hospital buildings and national forests). With no human-in-the-loop before or during operation, one expects future autonomous systems to (1) possess full situational awareness and (2) gather sufficient information about their environment. These two tasks need to seamlessly integrate into the overall mission of the autonomous system. Current autonomous systems are far from possessing these capabilities, and the current analytical tools are insufficient to deal with this emerging class of problems. 


As part of the grant, Professor Kassas will develop a coherent analytical foundation and a suite of algorithms and tools for autonomous systems deployed in unknown, dynamic stochastic environments to optimally gather sufficient information to successfully accomplish their mission. The research specifically considers autonomous systems with limited sensing, computation, actuation, and communication capabilities.


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