Robotics and automation challenge traditional engineering disciplines because the integrated approach in the selection of means to the intended functional ends must involve, by nature, a team activity and crossing the boundaries between conventional engineering disciplines. Unlike traditional fields, robotics and automation are still emerging areas that combine the essential elements of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer engineering.
MRS research group was founded in 2013 to conduct multidisciplinary research and development activities in the area of robotics and autonomous systems. The research objectives of the MRS group are:
To initiate new innovative research directions in different fields of robotics and autonomous systems and related fields by networking together the critical mass of resources.
To discover and develop fundamental scientific principles and practices that are applicable to intelligent automated systems, industrial automation and robotics.
To strengthen and enhance scientific and technological excellence in the area of robotics and autonomous systems.
To educate at undergraduate and graduate levels in the field of robotics and autonomous systems, and
To promote and sponsor scientific activities in the area of robotics and autonomous systems.
To integrate the various research efforts of the scientific team to be a source of innovation on possible scientific, technological and socio-economic paths.
To promote technology transfer between the university and industry to yield solutions to real world problems for a wide range of application domains.
The MRS group encompasses four main focus groups, namely, Environment PerceptionFocus Group, Service RoboticsFocus Group, Industrial AutomationFocus Group and Cooperative Intelligent SystemsFocus Group. These focus groups are small groups of researchers who have common research interests. Each group exchanges ideas, resources, and often meets periodically to discuss research progress.
Robotics and Autonomous Systems will be researched by the following focus groups:
Environment Perception Focus Group While we would like our machine to understand and be aware of its environment, in actuality, a modern machine or a robot is limited by the sensors we give it and the software we write for it. Sensing is not perceiving. Sensors are merely transducers that convert some physical phenomena into electrical signals that the microprocessor can read. Perception is much more than parameter estimation; it involves the interpretation of complex data. Perception is thinking about sensing.
MRS will carry out research and development activities in order to build machines capable of perceiving their surroundings. The main objective of this group is to push forward the boundaries of artificial vision research and explore its potential applications in mechatronic systems. These applications include, but are not limited to:
Visual servoing of industrial robots
Topological navigation of mobile robots
Human-robot non-verbal interaction
Indoor and outdoor video surveillance systems
Vision-based inspection systems
Research in machine vision aims at investigating both active as well as passive vision methodologies. Active vision depends mainly on using laser scanners to extract 3D information for a given environment while passive vision techniques acquire digital images through which 3D information can be extracted. In the later case, cameras are used to acquire images along with sensors to determine parameters. This particular point should be a collaborative area between both focus groups teams. That is because information inferred accurately by sensors can help researchers develop good vision systems. On the other hand, vision techniques can help researchers enhance the accuracy induced by sensors.
MRS's findings will have the potential to produce smart sensors that understand and analyze the nature of the monitored environment and act accordingly.
Service Robotics Focus Group Last decade has witnessed intense research activities in robotics that covered all aspects ranging from design, sensorial fusion, control, environment modeling and mapping, to navigation and locomotion novel designs. Nowadays, robots have started a new era and entered new fields of application, including reaching our homes in the form of assistants in particular tasks, such as vacuum cleaning, in-home healthcare, remote control of household appliance or even for the purpose of entertainment. These developments were achieved owing to the recent advances in other technologies such as sensors, actuators, materials, new communications and multimedia technologies.
The objective of the Service Robotics Focus Group is to conduct research towards the development and improvement of new generation service robots, and maintains cooperation with industry in projects of mutual interest and benefit. This group explores the field of service robotics for private and professional use focusing on the practical issues of personal assistive robots, cleaning robots, entertainment robots, aerial and ground robotics.
These practical issues include but are not limited to endowing robots with higher-level cognitive faculties, such as planning and natural language understanding, 3D mapping, motion planning in unknown environments, nonlinear tracking and control, robot learning and social interaction.
Industrial Automation Focus Group Today, the application of computer technology in automation is expanding faster than any other area. Networks of industrial computers connect individual manufacturing cells into FMS (Flexible Manufacturing Systems), and FMSs are linked to form CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) systems spanning entire enterprises. CIM can be defined as a technology that combines the activities CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAP (Computer Aided Process Planning), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), CAQ (Computer Aided Quality Control) and PP&C (Production Planning and Control) in one system. The rapid advance of CIM systems during last decade made it an exciting field to work in.
The industrial automation focus group aims at advancing the state-of-the-art in intelligent automated systems and industrial automation through the development of reliable solutions for real world problems.
Some of the research topics that will be addressed by this focus group include, but are not limited to:
Sensors and actuators
Industrial control systems
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA)
Industrial Communication Schemes
Computer Integrated Manufacturing
Flexible Manufacturing Systems
Cooperative Intelligent Systems Focus Group MRS researches and deploys computational intelligence mechanisms to mobile robotics and other autonomous intelligent control problems. MRS works on providing the needed artificial intelligence to robot so that they can operate as individuals and groups in real world unstructured and open environments.
This focus group conducts multidisciplinary research and development activities in the area of Sensor and Actuator Networks (SANET). SANET is a spatially distributed system that incorporates a set of heterogeneous sensing and acting agents that, when properly managed, can sense collaboratively and continuously a volume of interest and physically manipulate and interact with it.
This group focuses on the challenging problems of SANET such as:
Static sensor placement to maximize the coverage
Energy-aware deployment of mobile sensors
Sensor management -Sensor-actor coordination
Decentralized data fusion -Hard and soft data fusion
Routing, mobility, reliability, fault tolerance and adaptivity
Interoperability and accessibility of distributed sensing and acting agents
The group also explores the applicability of sensor networks to many pertinent areas of industrial and commercial importance such as security and surveillance, environment monitoring, pipeline monitoring, infrastructure health monitoring, industrial process control, health care and home intelligence.