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Strategic Research Initiatives

Building the UIUC Center for Autonomy

Geir E. Dullerud: Mechanical Science and Engineering

Girish Chowdhary: Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Sayan Mitra: Electrical and Computer Engineering

The mission of this project is launching and establishing the Center for Autonomy on the UIUC campus to organize both discipline-specific and cross-cutting research efforts in this vital and emerging area. The broad goals are to: enable high-impact research; effect education and training of students in this transformative area; create UIUC visibility in the autonomy area; and build a sustainable financial infrastructure.

A major technological and societal revolution is underway, based on the possibilities afforded by the advances made in artificial intelligence, digital hardware, and communication networks, as well as the large-scale adoption of these technologies in information systems. Examples of a few such systems are: self-driving cars; delivery drones; remote and robotic surgery; smart cities; micro power grids; the Internet of Things; digital manufacturing; control of atmospheric systems. The said revolution is based on the application of these technologies beyond the pure digital world. Perhaps the most important aspect of this revolution is the area of Autonomy, in which the physical systems of the future will be autonomous, able to provide functionality without human intervention, and greatly beyond what human supervised systems can currently achieve. The phase transition to such systems will involve, and indeed require, support and fundamentally new research developments from many different dimensions of technology, science and social science. The goal of this SRI is to provide a systematic pursuit of these research developments at the College and Campus level.