CIS Robotics Lab Awarded Department of Defense Grant
The Robotics and Computer
Vision Laboratory at Fordham University has
received a $49,586 grant from the Army Research Office of the U.S. Department
of Defense to develop a prototype surveillance robot.
Lyons, Ph.D., an associate professor of computer and information
science and director of the robotics laboratory, and Frank Hsu, Ph.D., the
Clavius Distinguished Professor and chair of the department of computer and
information science at Fordham, are using the award money to develop a
prototype robotic device that could be used to scope out potentially dangerous
areas and help soldiers avoid sniper fire on military missions.
The military uses robotic machines to conduct automated surveillance, thwart
ambushes, and locate tanks and mines. They have recently been used along the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border to enter and explore suspected underground Al
Qaeda chambers. These robotic surveillance devices use legs for transport and
are extremely agile, but consume large amounts of energy.
According to the Fordham researchers, they are developing a prototype that
incorporates the use of wheels and legs to minimize energy consumption. The
machine, called a "rotopod", is a tripod-like device with cameras
mounted on adjustable legs and a rotating, off-centered weight on top.
Of the projects "uconventional approach", Lyons said, "Some of
the best functioning robots are built in not-so-obvious ways."
Moving in a spiral pattern by pivoting on its legs, while touching the ground
multiple times per rotation, the rotopod would be able to follow one of a
variety of non-repeating patterns, making it especially useful for military
Lyons and Hsu co-founded Fordham's Robotics and Computer Vision Laboratory
in the summer of 2002, with much of the research falling into the main
categories of robotics, automated surveillance and augmented reality.