Core research programs are developed jointly by the CRIM faculty/staff and the CRIM-IUAB. Joint faculty/staff/industry Technology Focus Groups are key to this effort. Based on these discussions, projects are formulated by the faculty and presented to the CRIM-IUAB. Each CRIM-IUAB member assesses the usefulness of the proposed project and rates the project’s usefulness and relevance to their business.
In addition to the core research programs, the CRIM conducts non-core research and development projects that are sponsored by industry. These are specific problems of a proprietary or non-proprietary nature. CRIM solutions are “proof of concept only.” Exploitation of the results of an industrial research and development project must be discussed between the sponsoring company and the university, and be within the guidelines of the university. Member companies pay reduced “indirect cost” charges on direct costs (less equipment) in case of non-core industry-based research and development. Non-member companies pay the full indirect costs (on the order of 49% of the direct costs, less equipment).
Selected CRIM core research projects, and non-core research and development projects are described on the following pages. The name of the Ph.D. or M.S. candidate who established the research project is highlighted in bold text.
Core Research Programs
Core research programs are concentrated on three major themes:
- Cognitive and evolutionary robotics
- Intelligent sensing and control
- Medical robotics and biorobotics
Some of the projects that have been carried out under the core research programs are described on the following pages. Many of these projects are continuing. It should be noted that the major research themes are not mutually exclusive, that there is a great deal of technology cross-over between the themes. In this way the CRIM gets the maximum benefit from its efforts, technically and financially.
Evolutionary robotics (ER) research deals with the developmental analysis of robot controllers that are created using evolutionary robotics methods. ER uses artificial evolution to automatically design and synthesize intelligent robot controllers. Projects include researching into a synergistic hardware and software architecture that will provide autonomous robot systems with somatosensory control, e.g., the adaptive control used by insects in responses to events.
Intelligent sensing and control (ISC) deals with the development and analysis of sensory systems and adaptive, mainly learned, control algorithms and systems. Current ISC research projects are focused on the use of wireless sensor networks (WSN’s). Distributed sensor networks have random distributions and as such can have voids. One WSN project deals with the autonomous mobile robotic repair of WSN’s, in that the that the robot ski’s down the boundary of the network and fills the void. Applications for this technology include search and rescue, surveillance, and environmental monitoring. Also within this theme lies the wearable computing and wearable health monitoring project. Wearable devices for active ECG monitoring, respiratory monitoring, and activity monitoring (e.g., accelerometers) have all been prototyped and tested. This research is useful for military use, and for cognitive sensor network development. That is non-invasive sensors for monitoring pilots, truck drivers, etc.
Lastly, the theme of medical robotics and biorobotics, arguably the research area with the greatest potential for research growth in the CRIM. To date, two major medical robotics projects have characterized this research, automated cell in vitro fertilization, and automated phonomicrosurgery. Both these projects have resulted in the development of working prototypes. In the area of biorobotics the projects include musculoskeletal analysis and control; for analyzing human motion control, and for correcting the club-foot disorder in humans. A major project deals with understanding and controlling vascular flow, to assist with, and treat, deep vein thrombosis, ulcers, and lymphedema. New wearable sensing and control technology has been developed for the research.