Smart Cities

This theme will be winding down at the end of October, 2015

The TerraSwarm Research Center will focus on a single integrated challenge problem: the application of TerraSwarm technologies to Smart Cities. Two scenarios are of interest: a city during normal operation and a city during natural or man-made disasters (such as accidents, failures, earthquakes or terrorist attacks).

In normal operation, a swarm-enabled "Smart City" not only helps run the infrastructure more effectively but empowers its occupants by providing more effective interfaces, better mobility, and experiences in immersive realities in a way not possible before. For example, maintenance crews may recruit sensors from underground utilities, and combine their data with data from their own pipe-crawling robots and from the cloud. They can use this information to guide maintenance operations using overlay displays in a manner similar to what televised sporting events use, based on contextual 3D information.

In emergency scenarios, the swarm-enabled Smart City is able to safely and securely align both stationary (e.g. biohazard detection sensors) and mobile (e.g. UAVs, robots, humans) resources needed to protect itself and its inhabitants. Relying on human operators to remotely pilot vehicles will be impractical, so the mobile network must autonomously deploy itself in a region of interest to reach a configuration optimizing a given performance objective. The environmental sensors will focus on detecting and alerting inhabitants of dangerous chemical and biohazards, while immersive environments created on the fly can enable teams to deploy clean up and security forces. The goal of the network under emergency conditions is to adapt, coordinate, respond, and resolve dangers appearing in the environment effectively, efficiently, and as autonomously as possible.

In both scenarios, Smart Cities combine the management of fixed infrastructure (e.g. environmental monitoring, energy-usage, tracking and mapping), mobile assets (automatic vehicles, UAVs, robots), and immersive humans (the unPad model) in an integrated whole. This involves seamless discovery and integration of sensing, actuation, and computation, with the use of feedback to manage uncertainty.

Smart Cities give TerraSwarms a systems perspective. Here, the systems include not only the collection of fixed and moving sensors and actuators, but also city streets, buildings, and occupants. All are richly interconnected through wired and wireless links, and orchestrated by a set of control algorithms running on a distributed computational infrastructure.

Building on testbeds in the constituent universities, we plan to realize a number of Smart City scenarios integrating multifunctionality, dynamic adaptation, safety and security, scalability, and robustness.

The critical research issues to be addressed include how to recruit and compose heterogeneous resources, how to dynamically adapt applications to changing resources and contention for resources, and how to share resources without compromising safety, security, or privacy.

Smart Cities Faculty

Smart Cities Resources

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