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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Courant Institute receives ONR grant to develop crow-sized autonomous plane

April 20, 2011

New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences has received a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a bird-sized, self-flying plane that could navigate through both forests and urban environments.

The Courant Institute shares the $4.5 million, 5-year grant with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Harvard University.

“The plane would be about the size of a crow, and, like a bird, would use vision to navigate, but it would use orientable propellers and not flap its wings.” explained Yann LeCun, a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute.

The work will rely, in part, on a technology that emulates the visual system of animals called Convolutional Networks, which mimics the neural network in the mammalian visual cortex and can be trained to quickly interpret the world around it. The vision system will run on a new type of computer chip that uses a “dataflow” architecture. Dubbed NeuFlow, the new chip will enable Convolutional Networks and other computer perception algorithms to run on very small and lightweight devices hundreds of times faster than a conventional computer.
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