Alberto Quattrini Li wins NSF CAREER award for underwater robotics research

Alberto Quattrini Li, co-director of the Reality and Robotics Lab, works on the intelligence of aquatic robots, powering them to autonomously perceive and explore challenging underwater environments. In particular, he creates and provides techniques and methods that allow low-cost robots to be used effectively. Having inexpensive robots and the corresponding means to make them autonomous, says Quattrini Li, will lower the barrier to adopt them for use. 


The project will develop novel algorithms on the low-cost robots and test them in lakes, and the ocean. The techniques they develop aim to ensure that the underwater robot is cognizant of its position by working in cooperation with the robotic boat on the water's surface. This allows the robot to explore its underwater surroundings without getting lost. 


The second focus area relates to communication. Low-cost robots have limited bandwidth, of the order of kilobits per second. Quattrini Li and his team will develop techniques to identify information that is relevant for the robot to carry out its mission while stripping everything else away. Finally, their techniques aim to make the robots more robust by implementing mechanisms that will allow them to regain lost communication and overcome other such obstacles. 


The robots can be deployed in lakes and other aquatic environments to monitor water quality and report harmful algal blooms.