Alfredo Weitzenfeld awarded $494,420 from NSF

September 18, 2017

Alfredo Weitzenfeld

On September 1, 2017, Alfredo Weitzenfeld was awarded a grant of $494,420 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of a project entitled "RI: Medium: Collaborative Research: Experimental and Robotics Investigations of Multi-Scale Spatial Memory Consolidation in Complex Environments."

According to the abstract of the project on the NSF website, "Navigation technologies are an increasingly important component of everyday life in an ever more dynamic and complex world. One limitation of these technologies is that they are optimized for a specific spatial scale. Another limitation is that they do not use the knowledge of previous navigation to compute new paths, essentially starting from scratch every time they are invoked. Recent evidence shows, however, that the mammalian brain has evolved to use multiple spatial navigation scales in parallel, and to use spatial memory to improve path planning. How these scales are used and what advantages such uses provide are still unknown. This project hypothesizes that multiscale spatial navigation is crucial in large and cluttered environments. Experiments recording from the neurons of the "brain GPS" system of the rodent (an excellent and efficient spatial navigator) seek to elucidate the basic principles of memory-based multiscale spatial navigation. These experiments will inform new algorithms that will be implemented on a computer to simulate complex multiscale spatial navigation, mimicking the neural computations of the brain. The simulations will then be tested and improved on actual autonomous mobile robots navigating in challenging complex environments."

Alfredo Weitzenfeld is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Weitzenfeld received a PhD in Computer Science and an MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. Dr. Weitzenfeld is the Director of the Biorobotics Laboratory and the USF RoboBulls robot soccer teams at USF. His research is primarily funded by NSF in the area of biologically-inspired robotics. Other areas of interest include cognitive robotic, humanoid robots, multi-robot systems and biomedical engineering. Dr. Weitzenfeld has authored two books and over 130 refereed journal and conference papers.