Prof. Zak Kassas received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award for his work on "Situational awareness strategies for autonomous systems in dynamic uncertain environments." The CAREER is NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.
This five-year, $500,000 award will fund research aimed at enabling autonomous cyber-physical systems (CPS) deployed in dynamic, uncertain, poorly modeled environments to possess situational awareness, ensuring successful mission pursuit. The specific main objectives are: (1) Analyze the observability of unknown dynamic, stochastic environments comprising multiple agents. (2) Develop adaptation strategies to refine the agents’ models of the environment, on-the-fly, as the agents build spatiotemporal maps. (3) Design optimal, computationally efficient information fusion algorithms with performance guarantees. (4) Synthesize optimal, real-time decision making strategies to balance the potentially conflicting objectives of information gathering and mission fulfillment. This investigation will enable autonomous CPS to navigate complex tradeoffs, leading to autonomous identification and adoption of the optimal strategy.