Pratap Tokekar Receives NSF CAREER Award

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Assistant Professor Pratap Tokekar  receives the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for a project titled "Secure, Resilient, and Risk-Aware Multi-Robot Coordination".

Current multi-robot systems are "brittle" since the failure of a single robot may bring the whole team down. Cyber-attacks that incapacitate robots or compromise their sensors are becoming increasingly realistic. Tokekar’s project focuses on multi-robot coordination in scenarios where the robots operate in failure-prone or adversarial environments. The project aims to address the key question of how a team of robots can carefully coordinate and adapt their actions to make them resilient to individual robot failures. The underlying goal of the awarded project is to understand how teamwork can lead to resilience  in the face of uncertainty and failures.

The outcomes of Tokekar’s project will be a significant step towards the overarching vision of persistent and reliable autonomous operations in real-world conditions. Reliable multi-robot systems will be transformative for a number of high impact applications. New tools developed as part of this project will be evaluated in the context of one such application --- precision agriculture. With a population projected to exceed 9 billion by the middle of this century, aerial and ground robotic sensors can help reduce the waste and increase the yield by enabling data-driven techniques to be applied to agriculture. Furthermore, the algorithms that will be developed will find use in many other applications areas (e.g., monitoring oil refineries for leaks, studying climate change) where the ability to collect high-resolution data from hard-to-reach places autonomously can be game-changing.

In addition to being an Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Tokekar holds joint appointments in UMIACS and is affiliated with the Maryland Robotics Center. Tokekar’s research work focuses on designing algorithms and building systems to enable teams of robots to act as sensing agents.
In addition to the  research activities the awarded project will deliver educational and outreach activities to integrate real-world examples of multi-robot coordination in precision agriculture and environmental monitoring in order to train the next generation of engineers in multi-disciplinary thinking. The  project targets to ensure broad application and participation from underrepresented minorities by developing hands-on robot programming summer camp for middle-school students and training the middle school teachers to help them incorporate the technical activities in the classroom.

Complete Award Information-

More about the NSF CAREER Awards-

More about Tokekar’s research

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