Assistant Professor Calin Belta (ME) has been awarded a Young Investigator Research Program grant by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to conduct basic research in developing control and communication strategies for teams of unmanned vehicles.
The three-year AFOSR grants are awarded to early-career scientists and engineers who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting research in aerospace, physics, electronics, life sciences, and chemical and material sciences. Belta was one of 39 chosen out of over 200 national proposals.
“As a young researcher, it’s great to get this recognition from such an important organization,” Belta said. “This research is really focused on a communication interface that can be used in unsafe military zones, which is something that really appealed to the Air Force.”
Belta’s seeks to develop an interactive vehicle-to-controller language used in the deployment of mobile robots, such as unmanned military vehicles in combat zones. Combined with algorithms for automatic generation of control and communication strategies, the language could lead to a framework that will allow a high-level interaction between vehicles and a human operator.
“Our goal is to create robots that can react to specific situations in a safe and predictable way,” he said. “The interaction between the human operator and the robots should be minimal, and should be achieved through a friendly user interface.”
This is Belta’s second award for young investigators. He also received the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2005, and has been the lead investigator on three other NSF projects.