Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office
An autonomous spacecraft exploring the far-flung regions of the universe descends through the atmosphere of a remote exoplanet. The vehicle, and the researchers who programmed it, don’t know much about this environment.
With so much uncertainty, how can the spacecraft plot a trajectory that will keep it from being squashed by some randomly moving obstacle or blown off course by sudden, gale-force winds?
MIT researchers have developed a technique that could help this spacecraft land safely. Their approach can enable an autonomous vehicle to plot a provably safe trajectory in highly uncertain situations where there are multiple uncertainties regarding environmental conditions and objects the vehicle could collide with.
The technique could help a vehicle find a safe course around obstacles that move in random ways and change their shape over time. It plots a safe trajectory to a targeted region even when the vehicle’s starting point is not precisely known and when it is unclear exactly how the vehicle will move due to environmental disturbances like wind, ocean currents, or rough terrain.
This is the first technique to address the problem of trajectory planning with many simultaneous uncertainties and complex safety constraints, says co-lead author Weiqiao Han, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
“Future robotic space missions need risk-aware autonomy to explore remote and extreme worlds for which only highly uncertain prior knowledge exists. In order to achieve this, trajectory-planning algorithms need to reason about uncertainties and deal with complex uncertain models and safety constraints,” adds co-lead author Ashkan Jasour, a former CSAIL research scientist who now works on robotics systems at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Joining Han and Jasour on the paper is senior author Brian Williams, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and a member of CSAIL. The research will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation and has been nominated for the outstanding paper award.
Because this trajectory planning problem is so complex, other methods for finding a safe path forward make assumptions about the vehicle, obstacles, and environment. These methods are too simplistic to apply in most real-world settings, and therefore they cannot guarantee their trajectories are safe in the presence of complex uncertain safety constraints, Jasour says.
“This uncertainty might come from the randomness of nature or even from the inaccuracy in the perception system of the autonomous vehicle,” Han adds.
Instead of guessing the exact environmental conditions and locations of obstacles, the algorithm they developed reasons about the probability of observing different environmental conditions and obstacles at different locations. It would make these computations using a map or images of the environment from the robot’s perception system.
Using this approach, their algorithms formulate trajectory planning as a probabilistic optimization problem. This is a mathematical programming framework that allows the robot to achieve planning objectives, such as maximizing velocity or minimizing fuel consumption, while considering safety constraints, such as avoiding obstacles. The probabilistic algorithms they developed reason about risk, which is the probability of not achieving those safety constraints and planning objectives, Jasour says.
But because the problem involves different uncertain models and constraints, from the location and shape of each obstacle to the starting location and behavior of the robot, this probabilistic optimization is too complex to solve with standard methods. The researchers used higher-order statistics of probability distributions of the uncertainties to convert that probabilistic optimization into a more straightforward, simpler deterministic optimization problem that can be solved efficiently with existing off-the-shelf solvers.
“Our challenge was how to reduce the size of the optimization and consider more practical constraints to make it work. Going from good theory to good application took a lot of effort,” Jasour says.
The optimization solver generates a risk-bounded trajectory, which means that if the robot follows the path, the probability it will collide with any obstacle is not greater than a certain threshold, like 1 percent. From this, they obtain a sequence of control inputs that can steer the vehicle safely to its target region.
They evaluated the technique using several simulated navigation scenarios. In one, they modeled an underwater vehicle charting a course from some uncertain position, around a number of strangely shaped obstacles, to a goal region. It was able to safely reach the goal at least 99 percent of the time. They also used it to map a safe trajectory for an aerial vehicle that avoided several 3D flying objects that have uncertain sizes and positions and could move over time, while in the presence of strong winds that affected its motion. Using their system, the aircraft reached its goal region with high probability.
Depending on the complexity of the environment, the algorithms took between a few seconds and a few minutes to develop a safe trajectory.
The researchers are now working on more efficient processes that would reduce the runtime significantly, which could allow them to get closer to real-time planning scenarios, Jasour says.
Han is also developing feedback controllers to apply to the system, which would help the vehicle stick closer to its planned trajectory even if it deviates at times from the optimal course. He is also working on a hardware implementation that would enable the researchers to demonstrate their technique in a real robot.
This research was supported, in part, by Boeing.
Campus 365 provides cloud-based seamless solutions to educational institutions
With its ERP software and pioneering technological innovation, Campus 365 is disrupting the education sector and making education more effective and accessible
Just as technology, and particularly the digital era, has disrupted and improved most major segments of India’s economy, education and training is also undergoing a tech revolution. Education Technology, more commonly known as EdTech, possesses the power to bridge the learning gap thanks to technology’s ability to eliminate geographical barriers. As much as digital adoption is the need of the hour, it is critical to retain a few unparalleled benefits of a traditional classroom setup such as group discussion, personalised support from educators and creating opportunities to work on peer collaborative assignments.
Armed with a mission to empower schools with tools that serve people in the most human, helpful way, Campus 365- an ed-tech start-up incubated by NASSCOM 10000 startup based out of Gurgaon, is providing cloud-based solutions to schools and colleges to manage and track their daily activities seamlessly. With user-friendly mobile apps to help students, parents, and teachers maintain the academic cycle, Campus 365 provides a 360-degree outlook to stakeholders assisting them in making productive decisions to escalate their progress.
“We all know that the introduction of EdTech is transforming the learning process in schools. Initially, technological abilities were not needed for students but these skills are now of much importance. Today, students should have good knowledge of online communication to attend classes, check emails, and submit assignments online and our school ERP gives our students a dedicated platform for this to make them future-ready. We at Campus 365 believe that technology is a powerful instrument that can elevate education to an advanced level, allowing students to learn and collaborate in new ways and we are constantly working towards it” said Mayank Singh Co- Founder and CEO of Campus 365.
Campus 365 is India’s largest all-in-one app for teachers, schools, and coaching institutes to manage their online and offline classrooms in one place. This online teaching and institute management app helps users create tests & quizzes, share study material & homework, chat with students, take live online classes, record live lectures, teach using digital whiteboard, automate attendance, and much more.
Empowering 1000+ institutes globally, Campus 365’s mission is to enhance student learning by bringing innovation to education. Campus 365 partners with schools and colleges across the country to provide students with a holistic learning experience that makes them future-ready. The company offers a high-quality, end-to-end solution for every stakeholder involved in a child’s learning journey. Campus 365 tackles some of the most critical aspects of School management and reduces school staff workload. By doing so, the company ensures that school teachers nurture the young minds of tomorrow and that the school support staff enjoys using the Campus 365 School ERP engine’s superior apps. Campus 365’s innovative school management software solutions are aimed at providing the best of School ERP features and safety measures to school-going children.
Campus 365’s team is founded with a deep-rooted passion toward delivering value to not just schools, but to parents and teachers as well, who ensure that children are always walking on the path of constant innovation. Today, Campus 365 is used by schools around the world – from kindergarten to higher studies schools and non-profit schools.
Campus 365 has simplified the managing of day-to-day activities such as attendance marking, alerts through mobile applications, fees payment reminders, parent-teacher notifications, and holiday schedules. Every team member in Team Campus 365 has some experience in School and College Management Process and it is also one of the reasons why the company puts concerted efforts into optimising the School and College Management Software. Breaking complex software and making them user-friendly is the top priority of Team Campus 365.
Microsoft announces winners of Future Ready Applications Hackathon held across six cities
The hackathon was held in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, & Kochi
- The top three winners of the hackathon from each city received cash rewards of INR 50,000, INR 30,000, and INR 20,000 respectively
Microsoft today announced the winners of the Future Ready Applications hackathon. In Hyderabad, more than 250 participants joined the 8-hour-long in-person event open to all Microsoft customers and pro developer community in India. The participants came up with new age, innovative apps which were built on cloud-native architectures leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform.
The event also provided an opportunity for the participants to interact and engage with subject matter experts across Microsoft, its key partner organizations, Tech Influencers and Microsoft Valuable Professionals across India. Participants showcased innovative solutions to solve real-world business challenges around four key themes – fintech, e-commerce, sustainability, and developer velocity.
The hackathon saw an overwhelming response from startups, and enterprises from the technology sector focused on building customer experience and developer velocity as a theme. Developer professionals with industry experience ranging from 3-15 years representing leading technology companies like Accenture, EY, TCS, WIPRO, Cognizant amongst others participated in the event.
The top three winners from Hyderabad were:
|Microsoft FRA Hackathons Winners Hyderabad|
|Winner||GROUP I: Aravind Palisetty, Srikanth Mudili, Vasanth Korada||DevFocus with Azure||Developer velocity|
|Runner Up||GROUP J: Srinu, Irfan Ali Zaidi, Ravitej Nerella, Chaitanya Venkata Manikanta Chintalapati||Pick & Park||Sustainability|
|Second Runner Up||Thought Solvers:· Rishi B||Financial Management Applications through Azure||Fin Tech|
The winning teams were shortlisted based on their innovative idea and their presentations. In addition to the reward for winners, all the participants were given $200 Azure credit coupons and participation certificates.
Aparna Gupta, Executive Director, Customer Success, Microsoft India, said,“At Microsoft, we are committed to designing solutions and providing the right skills and resources for pro and citizen developers to grow and thrive in a digital economy. The Future Ready Applications hackathon was organized to bring India’s brightest technical minds together to collaborate, connect and innovate. Congratulations to all the hackathon winners. We are very excited to see the innovative thinking and the potential of scale of some of these applications that will enable businesses in India to solve for challenges, innovate and grow on cloud.”
Microsoft Azure platform hosts more than 200 products and cloud services which can help developers solve today’s challenges and design solutions for the future. Our goal is to empower developers to harness the power of the cloud, enabling them to move from idea to code; code to cloud and cloud to the world. A series of initiatives focused on developers have been launched to empower the community like the Blogathon Challenge, Azure Developer League, virtual training days, cloud skills challenge across the Azure community present in 100 Indian cities.
Takeda becomes a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in India
As a signatory, Takeda has committed to adopting the Ten Principles of the UNGC which are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, a global values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader announced that its India operations has become a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the largest sustainability initiative globally.
As a signatory, Takeda has committed to adopting the Ten Principles of the UNGC which are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Ratnesh Kumar, Executive Director, UN-GCNI said, “The commitment to support UNGC Principles & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has encouraged socially responsible organizations to join the Global Compact initiative. We are delighted to welcome Takeda India into the GCN family and look forward to jointly pursuing goal-oriented initiatives towards the advancement of UN Global Compact’s mandates.”
Speaking on the announcement, Ms. Serina Fischer, General Manager for Takeda in India said, “Takeda is proud to have a values-based culture as its strong foundation. Our Global Code of Conduct is based on principles that are organized around Patient-Trust-Reputation-Business in that order. It embodies the spirit of Takeda — what we stand for and how we conduct ourselves. We are proud to become a signatory to adopt the Ten Principles of UNGC which is another step in bringing our global code of conduct to life and at the same time enables us in contributing to sustainable development goals (SDGs) while advocating for responsible business practices.”
“We’re focused on accelerating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives across our business and look forward to working with the UNGC to make more progress toward the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Takeda in India is already a member of the UNGC’s Centre of Excellence for Governance, Ethics and Transparency (CEGET) and Anti-Corruption Collective Action Work Group (ACCA) focused on shaping governance transparency and anti-corruption initiatives” said Dr. Ruchi Sogarwal, Head of Public Affairs and Patient Advocacy for Takeda India.
Over the years, with its journey in India, Takeda has been a key industry leader in establishing ethical practices as a global corporate and is currently working to bring effective aid to rare disease patients in the country.
Ten Principles of the UNGC:
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour.
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
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