Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments:
Searching for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker and other Elusive Creatures

   Scott Jenson   Ken Goldberg, IEOR and EECS, UC Berkeley

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design

I'll describe a new class of systems that combine networks, robots, cameras, sensors, actuators, and human input to observe and record detailed animal behavior in remote settings. In one application, we are assisting the Cornell team that is searching a remote area of Arkansas for the elusive Ivory Billed Woodpecker, thought extinct since the 1940s.

I'll present a series of results on robots collaboratively controlled by humans via networks. My lab has been investigating the algorithmic foundations for such observatories: new metrics, models, data structures, and algorithms, that will comprise a robust, mathematical framework for collaborative observation. Newly available robotic cameras offer pan, tilt, and extreme zoom capabilities with built-in network servers at low cost. These cameras motivate the Single Frame Selection (SFS) problem, where $n$ users share control of a single robotic camera. I'll present several algorithms, O(n^2 m) for a set of m zoom levels, and O((n + 1/\epsilon^3) log^2 n) for an infinite set of zoom levels. The algorithms can be distributed to run in O(n m) time at each client and in O(n \log n) time at the server. We are building prototypes that will be accessible via the internet to scientists, students, and the public worldwide.

This work is joint with Prof. Dez Song at Texas A&M and supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

Ken Goldberg is an artist and professor at UC Berkeley. He is Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, with an appointment in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received his PhD in Computer Science from CMU in 1990 and studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Edinburgh University, and the Technion. From 1991-95 he taught at the University of Southern California, and in Fall 2000 was visiting faculty at MIT Media Lab.

Goldberg and his students work in two areas: Geometric Algorithms for Automation, and Networked Robots. In the first category, he develops algorithms for feeding, sorting, and fixturing industrial parts, with an emphasis on mathematically rigorous solutions that require a minimum of sensing and actuation so as to reduce costs and increase reliability. In the area of Networked Robots, Goldberg and colleagues developed the first robot publically operable via the Internet (in 1994). He has published over 100 research papers and edited four books. In 2004, Goldberg co-founded the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering and is Founding Chair of its Advisory Board. Goldberg was named National Science Foundation Young Investigator in 1994 and NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow in 1995. He is the recipient of the Joseph Engelberger Award (2000), the IEEE Major Educational Innovation Award (2001) and was elected IEEE Fellow in 2005.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine

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