A bird and a plane -- NYU receives grant to develop crow-sized autonomous plane

Apr 20, 2011

New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences has received a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a bird-sized, self-flying plane that could navigate through both forests and urban environments.

The Courant Institute shares the $4.5 million, 5-year grant with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Harvard University.

"The plane would be about the size of a crow, and, like a bird, would use vision to navigate, but it would use orientable propellers and not flap its wings." explained Yann LeCun, a professor at NYU's Courant Institute.

The work will rely, in part, on a technology that emulates the visual system of animals called Convolutional Networks, which mimics the neural network in the mammalian and can be trained to quickly interpret the world around it. The vision system will run on a new type of computer chip that uses a "dataflow" architecture. Dubbed NeuFlow, the new chip will enable Convolutional Networks and other computer perception algorithms to run on very small and lightweight devices hundreds of times faster than a conventional computer.

"The NeuFlow hardware is a key element of this project, as it is the only vision architecture that is powerful enough and compact enough to do the job," said LeCun, who is collaborating with Yale University researcher Eugenio Culurciello and his team on the NeuFlow project.

The ONR grant brings together seven researchers from diverse fields that include machine learning, computer vision, planning and control, aerodynamics, , and the study of bird flight. Besides LeCun, team members include: J. Andrew Bagnell (CMU), Andrew Biewener (Harvard), Emilio Frazzoli (MIT), William Freeman (MIT), Martial Hebert (CMU), David Lentink (Wageningen University), and Russ Tedrake (MIT).

Under a previously awarded National Science Foundation grant, LeCun and his colleagues at Stanford University, MIT, and the University of California, Berkeley are working to develop new computational models of how the visual system learns to recognize objects. The project's researchers hope to uncover new mechanisms that could explain the learning process in neural circuits.

Explore further: 3-D-printable materials deform to change surface area, enabling curvature rather than rigid folding

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Learning about brains from computers, and vice versa

Feb 15, 2008

For many years, Tomaso Poggio’s lab at MIT ran two parallel lines of research. Some projects were aimed at understanding how the brain works, using complex computational models. Others were aimed at improving the abilities ...

Team IDs binocular vision gene

Sep 14, 2007

In work that could lead to new treatments for sensory disorders in which people experience the strange phenomena of seeing better with one eye covered, MIT researchers report that they have identified the gene responsible ...

Project Whirlwind comes home

May 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Project Whirlwind Computer collection -- a compilation of pioneering digital computing research conducted at MIT in the 1940s and 1950s -- has been transferred back to the Institute from ...

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

10 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

18 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

18 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

19 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

21 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.