Visible to the public CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Cyborg Insect Networks for Exploration and Mapping (CINEMa)

Project Details
Lead PI:Alper Bozkurt
Co-PI(s):Edgar Lobaton
Mihail Sichitiu
Tyson Hedrick
Performance Period:10/01/12 - 09/30/15
Institution(s):North Carolina State University
Sponsor(s):National Science Foundation
Project URL:
Award Number:1239243
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Abstract: Autonomous navigation in unknown and dynamic environments has been a major challenge for synthetic mobile robotic agents. On the other hand, insects can easily solve such complex navigational problems and demonstrate remarkably stable and optimized locomotion skills in almost any environment. This project aims to develop a mobile sensor network where insects are used as mobile biological-robotic (biobotic) nodes. Insects, in fact, build a "natural" sensor network through the use of their biological sensing organs and release of chemical, mechanical and optical cues to communicate the information to the rest of the group. In the scope of this project, a novel cyber-physical communication network will be established among the individual insect in addition to the aforementioned natural one. For this, insects will be equipped with synthetic electronic sensors to sense additional cues, neuromuscular stimulation systems to direct the control of the insect and microcontrollers with radios to establish an RF link between the insects. This novel network will enable operation of insect biobots in complicated and uncertain dynamic environments for applications such as environmental sensing and search-and-rescue operations after natural disasters. The unique interdisciplinary nature of this project will help engineers to reach to younger generations and train them to be able to look at engineering problems from a cyberphysical systems point of view. Planned activities include development of lab modules and demos by undergraduate and graduate students to teach K-12 students and their teachers through our on-going collaborations with educational partners. These demos will also be instrumental during nation level efforts to promote graduate education to underrepresented minority students.