UWIN faculty member Dr. Bing Brunton has been awarded a 2019 multidisciplinary university research initiative (MURI) award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research! The MURI program supports teams of investigators from different fields to facilitate the growth of newly emerging technologies. Dr. Brunton’s awarded project focuses on sparse sensing and control for agile flight, and combines the efforts of researchers from the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These researchers include UWIN faculty members, Tom Daniel, Steve Brunton, and Nathan Kutz, as well as Sarah Bergbreiter from Carnegie Mellon, and Jonathan How from MIT.

The focus of this research is on the ability of flying animals to acquire information about the environment and make tiny adjustments with small amounts of data. The researchers look to mimic this ability in algorithms and robotics. Many flying animals have strict constraints on size, weight, and computing power, but can still make precise adjustments with large amounts of environmental data. Brunton is looking to use inspiration from flying animals to work on the flying ability in tiny robots by reducing the amount of data imputed through use of specialized hardware alongside sparse neuronal computations. By investigating the flight constraints and the neural response, the project strives to have broad impacts in designing efficient sensor networks, performing adaptive control of complex systems, and achieving agile flight sensing and control.

Bing Brunton previously received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator award as well as a University of Washington Innovation award. Steve Brunton has received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator award alongside two College of Engineering awards – one in 2018 and one in 2017. Sarah Bergbreiter has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Award in 2013  for her research on engineering robotic systems down to sub-millimeter size scales. This award was also written up in UW Biology’s newsletter.