The Technion Autonomous Systems Program (TASP)
What are Autonomous Systems?
Autonomous systems, also known as robotics, are intelligent machines capable of self-management and designed to operate independently in a dynamic environment with minimal or no remote human intervention. They integrate mechanics, computers, sensors, and software, and include a wealth of other implementations that will drive progress in defense, medicine, and industry. Automated systems are soaring the skies, assessing underwater ecosystems, snaking through undetected tunnels, regulating traffic, and crossing rough terrain. They’re doing housework and even moving through our digestive systems!
What is the benefit of Autonomous Systems?
Autonomous systems can be cheaper, safer, faster, and more effective than human driven methods. Through smart linking of sensors, systems can cooperate to save and improve lives, and easily perform complex tasks that are too difficult, dangerous, or monotonous for humans to do.
Autonomous Systems at the Technion
With an outstanding record of excellence in engineering and interdisciplinary research, the Technion is a world pioneer in the development of autonomous systems and “smart” devices, which react and respond to situations as they evolve.
To enhance their research, the Technion established the Technion Autonomous Systems Program (TASP), the only one of its kind in Israel, and the scientific home for dozens of advanced researchers from many faculties. Headed by Distinguished Professor Daniel Weihs, TASP has world-class facilities for application-oriented research and development of complete autonomous systems, including hardware, software, operations principles, and manufacturing and maintenance considerations. Developments in micro- and nanotechnology are also critical to the development and practical application of autonomous systems.
The following five TASP centers are dedicated to different areas of specialization:
1. The Arlene and Arnold Goldstein Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Satellites
The Arlene and Arnold Goldstein Center for UAVs and Satellites
Driven by the need to identify and address constant terrorist threats, Israel has been a leader in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) technology for more than 30 years. At this center, researchers from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering are advancing the development of UAVs, some as small as the palm of your hand. These UAVs can perform military or weather surveillance, and can react to changing tactical situations. They can also coordinate action with other members of their “swarm,” or team, which are deployed on the same mission or task. This is important because UAVs and satellites are the most natural application for advanced autonomy, as the distance at which they operate from the control centers is such that the time required for signals to travel from transmitter to receiver can be many seconds, and for interplanetary missions, even minutes. The new UAVs help protect and improve the quality of life around the globe, and make major contributions in:
It’s Happening at the Technion
Airborne Guardians: Studying the ability of dandelion seeds to float in the air for prolonged periods, a team led by Prof. Danny Weihs developed nano-sized parachutes made of electrospun nanofibers that change colors in the presence of airborne chemical toxins and other environmental contaminants.
Research at the Goldstein Center focuses on the following seven projects:
The Goldstein Center also houses a database and library of the open literature on unmanned aerial vehicles, which will serve both the Center’s researchers, Technion students and staff, as well as the Israeli Defense Forces, and others. Learn more about the Goldstein Center.
You can also watch a video on satellite formation flying.
It's Happening at the Technion
Unmanned Ground and Marine Systems Center: Grounded in Safety
Unmanned ground vehicles are designed to adapt to their ever-changing environment. Whether climbing walls or pipes, overcoming natural obstacles like trees and hills, navigating bodies of water, or scaling ravines, unmanned ground vehicles depend upon maps, aerial images and proper communications systems to make correct decisions at all times. The ground vehicles often mimic the agility of their living counterparts.
(The photo above and to the right is a tele-operated vehicle for mine detection.)
It’s Happening at the Technion
No Ordinary Snake in the Grass
Dr. Wolf founded the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. To learn more click here.
(To the left, a spider robot developed at the Technion moves through underground cavities, pipes and tunnels, searching for survivors and carrying out control and maintenance operations in dangerous structures such as nuclear reactors.)
Autonomous Medical Systems Center
Autonomous systems are bringing about fundamental changes in health care. New technologies have enabled the development of tiny instruments that can be inserted in the body and either be guided by physicians or move on their own. Some of these instruments are able to reach areas of the body that were previously inaccessible using traditional tools such as endoscopes. Development of tiny medical robots means that diagnosis and treatment can take place using far smaller incisions, resulting in easier and quicker recovery. Specialists at remote locations may be able to perform procedures using robotic assistants to perform simple tasks, such as handling surgical tools and sanitizing equipment, particularly when human assistance is limited, or unavailable and expensive. This will enable round-the-clock observation and rapid reaction to crisis and long-term medical issues.
Open Wide and Say, “See You Later!”
An Inner Body Experience:
Autonomous Agent Networks Center
The whole is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts. Autonomous systems are not necessarily individual physical objects; they can be networks of virtual individual units interacting to produce a combined action that is much more complex than each individual requirement or capability. Applications of such systems appear in air traffic control and power grid control.
The Household and Industrial Robotics Center
With their vast potential, autonomous robots being developed at the Technion assist humans in complex tasks, and in situations that are too difficult, dangerous or monotonous. These include operating factories and machinery, excavating mines, or exploring nuclear plants, running traffic systems, or managing air-traffic control, and even housework! Autonomous robots will be of particular use to the elderly and physically challenged.
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