Cutting-edge UMBC research uses artificial intelligence and robots to assist national security
BALTIMORE -- The United States is increasingly turning to artificial intelligence to protect against threats and assist in disasters.
Researchers at the University of Maryland Baltimore County are on the cutting edge, marrying robots with artificial intelligence.
It could be the key to keeping the United States safe and protecting people during emergencies.
UMBC students and professors showed WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren some of what they are working on in labs at the edge of campus.
"Essentially, a robot is an extension—a very powerful extension—of the human ability," Professor Aryya Gangopadhyay said. "It can crawl into a space where no human can go. . . . It never gets tired. It never gets bored."
"You can literally train a robot in a lab," he said. "You can take it out into the field, and it knows how to adapt itself to different tasks that it was not trained for, which is really the future of robotics."
Students Kevin Rippy, Warren Funk, Indrajeet Ghosh, Hong Nguyen and Ben Polyakov demonstrated how they control robots remotely using gestures.
They could be the eyes and ears of a soldier on the battlefield.
"We want it to be able to relay that information back to the soldier so the soldier can make a decision," Rippy said.
Students also showed us drones small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The drones could be sent into dangerous situations like buildings that have collapsed after an earthquake or tornado.
"They're basically equipped with several different sensors and cameras and could look for humans, for objects, for casualties, and they can make their own decisions," Tinoosh Mohsenin, associate professor of computer engineering, said.
A human can monitor their movements in real time and also provide some measure of control.
Students showed Hellgren robots that are learning to work together and get around obstacles. They could even be controlled from the other side of the globe.
"Being situated 1,000 miles away from that battlefield, you can still contribute your intelligence—your expertise," Professor Nirmalya Roy said.
They are also at work on cybersecurity and stopping cars from getting hacked and using robots and even some equipment from major manufacturer Toyota.
Today's vehicles communicate with each other, and if someone hacks into them, it could be disastrous.
"They don't have to drop a bomb or do anything physically. They can literally—from a remote setting—take control of a car or multiple cars and create an accident," Professor Gangopadhyay explained.
The robots are more cost-effective than using actual vehicles in the research.
"We could do all the testing, all the crashing, all the dangerous aspects here and make sure it works," student Neil Kpamegan said.
Artificial intelligence and robotics: a powerful combination that is expanding human capabilities.
"Literally the sky is the limit. It only depends on your own imagination," Gangopadhyay said.
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