Autonomy and Robotics

robotic assembly line.

AI has the potential to transform every segment of industry; it can accelerate the pace of innovation by enhancing creative intelligence and labor productivity, thus making new products and services possible, as well as new approaches to producing and delivering goods and services. 

UB faculty, with expertise in Big Data, robotics and controls, bio-inspired intelligence, wireless communication, and materials science are building the software, computational, and physically embodied aspects of autonomous systems.  They are designing the next generation of autonomous and intelligent transport, monitoring human health dynamics, distributed surveillance, handling toxic materials in manufacturing, collaborative robots for the construction industry, drone swarms for disaster response, and computer systems for accelerated learning for the workforce that will support and drive autonomous systems.

The successful adoption of these new technologies by industry will require us to rethink many of the foundational concepts, engineering tools, and systems design.  For example, the next generation of autonomous systems, requiring improved relationship between the human and machine, need better spatio-temporal dynamics, increased endurance, novel energy technologies, materials that have the ability to be flexible, malleable, collaborative and reconfigurable, and “soft robotics” that can conform to surfaces or objects.  Scalability for systems level adoption will demand robots capable of achieving multiple tasks in a variety of environments and teams of multiple robots and humans that can interact and collaborate effectively and safely.  We also need to advance the holistic analysis of cognition and embodiment, by studying how mind interacts with motor function in the manipulation of machines, and in turn, how machine response and function may shape and influence both mind and motor function, with the latter being driven by new functionalities of the materials used to make the motors.

UB has acquired an autonomous shuttle bus and vehicle to explore challenges in intelligent transportation including computational challenges for performance, inter-connectivity of such vehicles, and privacy/security issues. We are also examining the appropriate infrastructure for this emerging innovation (smart roads that can adapt to autonomous vehicles); environmental and workforce related issues; certification/ licensing, etc.   UB faculty need support to develop the infrastructure to advance research of AVs, drones and other autonomous systems. UB has researchers with expertise in computer visions, robotics, machine learning, human-automation interface, cyber-security, and one-of-the-kind, VR-based, 5-in-1 federated simulation platform for autonomous vehicle testing and evaluation. 

Affiliated Faculty