Article By: Amanda D. Stein
Dr. Timothy Chung, Director of Research and Education for CRUSER, stands beside the RMP 400 Robot.
Chartered by Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, the Naval Postgraduate School has commissioned the Consortium for Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education and Research (CRUSER). CRUSER is a wide base community of interest that offers a collaborative environment for researchers, industry, students, and defense personnel interested in all aspects of employing unmanned systems in an operational environment now and in the future. The official launch of the program, complete with a new website and monthly newsletter will occur at the ROBOTS in the ROSES Research Fair on 31 March 2011 at 1500 in the Herrmann Hall Rose Garden.
NPS is a hotbed for robotics and unmanned systems research, with students and faculty across departments working on different components of concepts, research and development. Where one group of researchers might be exploring how to best develop sensing capabilities to help unmanned systems navigate the battlefield, for example, another department across campus might be exploring the ethical implications of using unmanned systems in combat. CRUSER will facilitate connecting the two and others in their fields, utilizing each group’s findings to contribute to the bigger picture.
Robots and unmanned systems are increasingly being developed and utilized within the Navy to handle tasks that are too dull, dirty or dangerous for humans to perform. NPS students studying unmanned capabilities are encouraged to work with faculty, government laboratories, other universities, and Navy experimentation programs to fully explore the potential of these systems to support the war fighter. Developing a generation of officers ready to employ unmanned systems is an important CRUSER objective. Other goals include inspiring concept generation for new unmanned technologies, offering and aligning education programs, conducting and participating in at sea experimentations, and conducting cooperative research in all aspects of unmanned systems. CRUSER Program Director Jeff Kline, notes the value of the program in support of the DoD’s mission.
“CRUSER’s overall goal is to capture NPS’ unique synergy between operationally experience students and a diverse faculty who focus on defense related issues,” explained Kline. “The innovation, technical talent, and concept generation potential at NPS provides an excellent foundation for a Department of Defense venue to cooperatively engage in all aspects of unmanned system education and research”Together, the unmanned systems and robotics community can look at some of the pressing questions to make the technology as efficient as possible, notes Dr. Timothy Chung, Director of Research and Education for CRUSER.
“CRUSER has the opportunity to align a lot of different people and bring them together in conversation,” said Chung. “Conversation leads to collaboration. And that collaboration is what’s going to make things happen. Especially in the area of robotics, which is interdisciplinary by definition. You can’t just do it with one field anymore, and robotics is a good example of that.
“In a robotics system, it’s necessary to have all of these different pieces working together,” he continued. “You can’t just build them in isolation and throw them together and expect them to work. So there needs to be some understanding, some translation that occurs when people talk with one another, and CRUSER can help bring those people together. And even if they just have coffee together on a regular basis, that’s already more than they are doing now, and that’s helpful in the longer term when they try to do collaborative research.”