Song Wins NSF CAREER Award for Teleoperated Robotics Research
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Nov 27, 2006
Dr. Dezhen Song, assistant professor in Texas A&M University’s Department of Computer Science, director of the NetBot Laboratory and researcher in the Texas Engineering Experiment Station’s Computer Science disciplinary research division, has received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his research into teleoperated robots.

This prestigious award — a minimum $400,000 grant over five years — is intended to advance its recipient’s research and teaching.

Song’s research into teleoperated robots, the Robotic Biotelemetry project, purposes to help natural scientists study wildlife: He’s working at devising algorithms and systems to remotely determine the behavior, motion cycle, number, speed, volume, etc., of any animal or colony of animals; and to transmit this data to natural scientists’ computers via the Internet.

This project builds on another of Song’s NSF-funded projects, Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments.

In that project, he and his collaborator, Dr. Kenneth Y. Goldberg, professor in the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, have developed robotic observatories that natural scientists can deploy wherever to video wildlife. The robotic observatories transmit the video to the natural scientists’ computers — as well as our computers — via the Internet.

The robotic observatories are autonomous in addition to teleoperated: They’re able to identify and video wildlife without remote manipulation from the natural scientists. They’ve resulted from developments in distributed sensors, robotic cameras and wireless networks; and resulted in brand-new algorithms, data structures, metrics and models.

Song and Goldberg have deployed robotic observatories at the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas — to help natural scientists from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology find the storied ivory-billed woodpecker — and the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in California.

In 2005, Song led faculty and students who programmed computers and electronics on the first riderless motorcycle to try out for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Grand Challenge. The motorcycle, Ghostrider, was another collaboration between Song and researchers from UC Berkeley.

‘‘The NSF CAREER award-recognition of Dr. Song is well-deserved,’‘ said Dr. Valerie Taylor, head of the Department of Computer Science and holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professorship I in Engineering. ‘‘He has consistently shown his outstanding research ability in autonomous robotics through his publications and funded projects.

‘‘Dr. Song is a strong researcher and teacher. He’s a fine example of the quality of our computer science faculty.’‘

Song joined the Department of Computer Science in 2004. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s from Zhejiang University in China and doctorate from UC Berkeley.

Dr. Dezhen Song


Susan E. Cotton


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