Research & Innovation

Stevens Professor Philippos Mordohai Part of Team Receiving $1.3M NSF Grant to Improve Autonomous Underwater Robots

The grant, with $331K allotted to Stevens, will enable better mapping of underwater structures, and will support one Ph.D. student for four years.

Photo of Philippos Mordohai

Co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) Philippos Mordohai, professor of computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology, in collaboration with PI Ioannis Rekleitis (University of South Carolina) and co-PIs Srihari Nelakuditi (University of South Carolina), Alberto Quattrini Li (Dartmouth College), and Jesse Casana (Dartmouth College) were awarded a grant of $1.3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Their project, entitled “Collaborative Research: NRI: INT: Cooperative Underwater Structure Inspection and Mapping” will develop a system of co-robots collaborating with a human operator to map underwater structures.

Underwater structure mapping using autonomous robots is an important capability due to the high risk to divers performing such tasks. The underwater environment proves challenging and dangerous for humans in many aspects, while robotic operations face additional challenges compared to the above-water ones. In particular, both sensing and communications are restricted, and planning is required in three dimensions with limited information. Technologies developed and tested underwater are very likely to be successful in less adverse environments.

Mordohai and his collaborators project will generate 3D models of underwater structures from multiple images acquired by the cooperating robots under the high-level guidance of a human operator. These models will provide high-resolution, photo-realistic representations useful for visualization and analysis. The system will be integrated and tested for archaeological mapping at field sites. Their project integrates research and education through training of undergraduate and graduate students, who will have the opportunity to work in an inclusive, interdisciplinary team across South Carolina, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.

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