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While many children have dreamed of having a robot to clean their room and complete household chores, the risks of unknown threats has turned researchers and engineers around the globe to threat detection, surveillance, and response. The Center for Self-Organizing and Intelligent Systems is actively pursuing this challenge on two fronts.

The first is a conceptual plan for multiple automous agents to detect threats in critical locations such as nuclear reactors, power plants, and military installations. The autonomous agents share information through something like a central nervous system. There are dedicated agents that are assigned to process intercommunication messages and develop perceptions of large scale threats, while other agents plan responses and configure responses from unmanned aircraft, all-terrain robots, and even automated defense systems. Click here to view a simulation of how two unmanned autonomous aircraft can cooperatively survey and even reconfigure their assigned regions and paths upon threat detection and resolution.

The second is a parking lot surveillance system that includes a golfcart-sized mother robot (T4) and a pizza-box-sized child robot (ODIS). T4 can autonomously patrol a parking lot and scan for vehicles in parking spaces. It has ample vision capability with stereoscopic head cameras, a boom camera (on a robotic arm), and a real-time license plate recognition system. Of course, T4 has complete mobility with four smart wheels. If T4 detects a suspicious vehicle, it can deploy ODIS to autonomously investigate the undercarriage of the vehicle. This project is well underway with the first-generation T4 prototype being completed and the a handful of 2nd-generation ODIS prototypes in currently testing.