Cambridge, Mass. August 12, 2009 A multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, engineers, and biologists at Harvard received a $10 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Expeditions in Computing grant to fund the development of small-scale mobile robotic devices. Inspired by the biology of a bee and the insect's hive behavior, the researchers aim to push advances in miniature robotics and the design of compact high-energy power sources; spur innovations in ultra-low-power computing and electronic "smart" sensors; and refine coordination algorithms to manage multiple, independent machines.
Harvard is one of three lead institutions receiving the latest round of awards under the NSF's Expeditions in Computing program. The program, established last year by the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), provides the CISE research and education community with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, fundamental research agendas that promise to define the future of computing and information and render great benefit to society. Funded at levels up to $2,000,000 per year for five years, Expeditions represent some of the largest single investments currently made by the directorate.
"Nature has bred astonishing solutions to complex real world challenges," says Principal Investigator Robert Wood, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard (Wyss). "This research aims to understand the biology of bees and use this understanding to advance multiple topics in computer science and engineering."
Wood and his collaborators envision that the Nature-inspired research could lead to a greater understanding of how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and "intelligence" of a bee colony; foster novel methods for designing and building an electronic surroga
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