A $5 million grant from the U.S. Air Force will fund a research team led by North Carolina A&T State University that will develop control systems for a new dimension in battlefield strategy: large teams of unmanned vehicles.
The five-year project will expand the use of autonomous vehicles, such as drones, to a larger and more diverse scale.
The vision is to manage future battlefields with autonomous vehicles working together in the air, on the ground and/or underwater. The vehicles could be controlled remotely by human operators or they could maneuver autonomously in complex environments. Teams of autonomous vehicles working in concert with soldiers, sailors and fliers would be capable of a variety of cooperative missions, such as surveillance and reconnaissance.
“The concept of systems of vehicles is new,” says Dr. Abdollah Homaifar, Duke Energy Eminent Professor of computer engineering at N.C. A&T and leader of the project. “It’s about teaming and cooperation among the autonomous vehicles.
“Teams of these vehicles could provide an advantage on the battlefield, but we need to learn how to move beyond controlling, for example, one drone at a time, and how they can work together. These are complex systems that will operate together in extreme conditions.”
Reflecting its commitment to collaboration with other universities and the Greensboro community, North Carolina A&T joined with its academic and local government partners today in a groundbreaking at the Union Square Campus in downtown Greensboro.
Union Square’s first phase will be devoted to nursing and other health care professions.
A&T will locate its highly successful accelerated degree program in nursing and its RN-to-BSN program there.
Co-located with the A&T programs will be nursing programs from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Guilford Technical Community College and Cone Health. By housing the programs together, the four institutions can share lab space and equipment with significant cost savings.
“N.C. A&T was established in 1891 to prepare students for the careers of the modern day and the future,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said at the event. “More than 124 years later, A&T is holding fast to that principle, and that is why our participation in this initiative is imperative.”
Union Square is the latest of A&T’s collaborations with other Greensboro-area institutions, UNCG in particular. A&T and UNCG created the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a graduate-level education and research institution. The two universities also created and operate the Gateway University Research Park. A&T and UNCG offer a joint master’s degree program in social work as well.