Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Robots will Navigate Smokey Parking Lot, Algorithms Will Predict Where Smoke Will Move

An army of advanced "Switchblade" robots designed and created by the UC San Diego Coordinated Robotics Lab will infiltrate the P705 parking lot at UCSD on Friday July 30 as they roll through clouds of (inert, non-toxic) colored smoke set off by their advisor. Equipped with high-tech sensor packs and electronics, the robots will measure smoke concentrations and wind velocities as they move.
(Two preview videos are available here.)
The measurements will be transmitted in real time (via a high-speed cell-phone connection) to an off-site supercomputer running advanced weather-forecasting type algorithms developed by the UCSD Flow Control Lab, which will synchronize a numerical simulation of the smoke plume with the actual measurements taken in the field in real time (a problem known as data assimilation), and then tell the vehicles where to move next.

The goal is to forecast where the smoke is going to go, as precisely as possible, before it gets there. A series of 3-4 such tests will be performed during the 7 to 9 AM window. A camera performing time-lapse photography, hanging from a large balloon overhead, will record how well the system performs. The project is sponsored by National instruments and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The research has important social relevance related to new technology and algorithms for tracking a wide variety of environmental plumes of interest, from Gulf-coast oil, to Icelandic volcanic ash, to possible chemical/radioactive/biological plumes in homeland security settings.

World Record for Data Sorting / Slashdot

Congratulations to the entire data sorting crew over in computer science. They broke a world record when they broke a 60-second-sort terabyte barrier. They also tied another world record at the Sort Benchmark competition. And now their hard work is getting the attention of the inquisitive eyeballs on Slashdot.

Implanted Glucose Sensor Works For Over One Year

Above is the cover image illustrating work on an implantable sensor that provided long-term glucose monitoring in pigs. The next step: approval for clinical trials for humans. Read the glucose sensor Web story from the Jacobs School for details on how this kind of sensor could eventually help people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.