UC Riverside Granted $1M to Develop Drone Artificial Intelligence

The University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside) has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop artificial intelligence for drones – eventually allowing the robots to conduct far-reaching reconnaissance missions without direct human control, the university says.

Amit Roy-Chowdhury, professor of electrical and computer engineering, hopes to create programs that will allow the drones to act on their own, such as by zooming in on a certain object. The technology would be suited for environmental or security monitoring or for search and rescue, for example.

“The problem with drones is that the travel path is usually set beforehand,” Roy-Chowdhury says. “Our project will look into how we can let drones dynamically re-plan, depending on what data is sensed.”

Due to the large volume of collected data or because of limited reception, it can be hard for humans to analyze data in real time, the university says.

Roy-Chowdhury and his group plan to resolve this issue by pre-programming drones with artificial intelligence that allows the aircraft to strategically determine what kind of data and images are important enough to collect.

The research and experimentations will be conducted over the next two years in mountainous areas near the UC Riverside campus in inland Southern California. Roy-Chowdhury, who leads the university’s video computing group, is the principal investigator in the grant. Other investigators include Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, Darrel Jenerette, Konstantinos Karydis, Anastasios Mourikis and Qi Zhu.

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