FAU Unveils Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence

by GISELE GALOUSTIAN | Thursday, Mar 11, 2021
The Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence is housed in the state-of-the-art Engineering East building on the Boca Raton campus.

The Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence is housed in the state-of-the-art Engineering East building on the Boca Raton campus.

Artificial intelligence technologies are quickly evolving and changing every aspect of industry in the United States and globally. Artificial intelligence enables autonomy by robotic mobility and control learned through examples and computational decision-making and estimation from data using past training data experience. It has the ability to process large amounts of data much faster and make predictions more accurately than humanly possible.

To rapidly advance the field of artificial intelligence and autonomy, Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science recently unveiled its “Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence” (CCA-AI), a cutting-edge center designed to accelerate the development of innovative artificial intelligence and autonomy solutions.

“The Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence is a revolutionary effort that combines our expertise in artificial intelligence, supercomputing, sensing solutions, big data analytics and autonomous technologies,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science. “We are proud to unveil this new center, which will enable us to deliver on the full promise and potential of this technology that is transforming industry from government and public services to life sciences and health care to transportation, financial services, energy and other fields.”

Housed in the state-of-the-art Engineering East building on the Boca Raton campus, the CCA-AI (ca-ai.fau.edu) is immersed in projects focused on underwater, surface, air and space applications that are supported by autonomous resilient machine-to-machine wireless networking. The center includes a robust team of highly-trained experts in artificial intelligence and real-time operational stage monitoring – all of which is based on software-defined, continuously self-optimized joint communication/computing platforms.

At the helm of the CCA-AI is Dimitris A. Pados, Ph.D., director, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, a fellow of FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), and the Charles E. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in Engineering and Computer Science, who is nationally renowned in the areas of machine learning and connected artificial intelligence.

“Our center is testament to the spirit of collaboration within our college and across the university and is designed to position our researchers to help unlock the potential of artificial intelligence and autonomy together with our partners across industry, government and community,” said Pados. “The center also aligns with our vision to produce meaningful research that quickly translates into positive impacts on society while training the next generation of scientists in this burgeoning field.” 

Current projects at the CCA-AI include an industry/government autonomous interference-avoiding networking project, which involves autonomous all-spectrum interference-avoiding wireless communications to support multi-domain (underwater, surface, air and space) connected artificial-intelligence/autonomy applications. Researchers at the center also are working on novel machine-learning self-localization methods for robust positioning and navigation of autonomous systems in the absence of GPS; autonomously reconfigurable hardware-reduced wideband transceivers for efficient passive-active spectrum sharing; as well as an innovative reinforcement learning approach for decision making in complex environments, among others.

The CCA-AI currently includes eight faculty/senior members; nine graduate students; and nine undergraduate/high-school/visiting students. The research team includes Oscar Curet, Ph.D., associate professor, FAU Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering; Gonzalo Garcia-Garreton, Ph.D., post-doctoral research fellow; Zhen Ni, Ph.D., assistant professor, FAU Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science; George Sklivanitis, Ph.D., research assistant professor and a fellow of FAU’s I-SENSE; Amir Torabi, Ph.D., post-doctoral research fellow; Xiangnan Zhong, Ph.D., assistant professor, FAU Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science; and Shermeen Yousif, Ph.D., assistant professor; School of Architecture, FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and LettersFAU Broward campus.

On the education front, the CCA-AI and the College of Engineering and Computer Science received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM program for their project titled, “Making the Masters’ Degree in AI Accessible to High-achieving, Low-income Students.” The project will support with scholarships, up to 25 high-achieving FAU students with financial needs to complete the first  M.S. degree in artificial intelligence in Florida offered by the FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The CCA-AI is supported by the Schmidt Family Foundation, FAU’s I-SENSE, the NSF, the U.S Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. industry, totaling more than $5 million in funding.