This project envisions the research and development of "SENTIENT: Science of resiliENt auTonomy In pErceptually-degraded eNvironmenTs" as the new theory, methodological tools, and field experiments-verified system realization that give rise to a new generation of cognizant small (3kg) and micro (0.25kg) aerial robots capable of resilient autonomy, versatile exploration and inspection inside challenging, GPS-denied, visually-degraded, geometrically complex and dynamic environments such as vessel ballast tanks, cargo tanks, and oil & gas facilities. Motivated by the core hypothesis that there exists a comprehensive science of resilient autonomy for aerial robots seamlessly operating in challenging, high-risk and degraded environments, the envisioned research will be holistically organized around three cross-cutting objectives. In particular, SENTIENT will research on a) designing resilient collision-tolerant aerial robots, b) redundant, resourceful and robust robotic perception for autonomous localization and scene understanding through the fusion of diverse sensing technologies, and c) cognizant informative path planning and machine learning-based navigation. Capable of resilient autonomy in challenging settings, the SENTIENT robots are driven by important needs of the maritime and energy industry. The project partnership involves the collaboration of NTNU with Scout Drone Inspection (SDI), DNV GL, ALTERA and Equinor, while extensive real-life evaluations in ship ballast tanks, cargo tanks, and oil & gas installations are planned. Capitalizing on the importance of the scientific and application domain, the team has also established collaboration with NASA JPL, UC Berkeley and ETH Zurich. Overall, SENTIENT pushes the frontier in scientific research in robotics and artificial intelligence, while simultaneously building vital competence in industry-needed domains paving the way to offer new opportunities and societal benefits both at short- and long-term horizons.
Project leader: Kostas Alexis
Institution: NTNU FAKULTET FOR INFORMASJONS- TEKNOLOGI OG ELEKTRONIKK