Monday, June 18, 2012

Platypus, Politics, And Perpetual Motion

Although our blog has been quiet the past few months, things here at the CRW project headquarters have been anything but. The team made another trip back to Shelby Fish Farms in Ohio to test a bounded filter we developed to deal with the hysteresis of the dissolved Oxygen sensor and spent countless hours at our local Panther Hollow lake debugging and evaluating the algorithm. The end result was a sampling technique with significantly faster convergence than previously used algorithms when applied with a high hysteresis sensor. Our work on this filter will be presented at the 5th International Conference on Intelligent Robotics and Automation this October.

In other news, the CMU CRW project has officially spun off into a startup company; we are now all employees of Platypus LLC., a company which provides an environmental monitoring service using the CRW platform. Check out our logo below:
Our New Company Logo
You may be wondering why we chose to name ourselves after a egg-laying, duck-billed mammal indigenous to Eastern Australia. Platypus are typically thought of in Australia as an animal composed of odd variety of parts: a duck bill, a mostly marsupial reproductive system with the caveat that it lays eggs, waterproof fur, webbed feet, and even its own venom. As such, it is a difficult animal to categorize for taxonomists. Similarly, it is equally difficult to pin a single classification on the CRW platform; one one hand, it is simply a bunch of phones in floating enclosures serving as a mobile sensor network, yet on the other hand it is a full-fledged autonomous multi-agent system. Throw in the heightened pollution sensitivity of a platypus and the fact that it can sense electric fields with its bill, and it makes for a very appropriate mascot. Stay tuned to the blog for more information about Platypus LLC. and links to our company website once we get it up and running.

As part of our startup efforts, we at Platypus have participated in several events over the past week geared at promoting our company and establishing connections for contracts and collaboration. On Thursday of last week the Secretary of Labor for the United States, Hilda Solis, visited CMU to announce a grant to support local manufacturing. Platypus participated in a showcase of local startup companies where we got the chance to talk to the Secretary and show off our boats. The Secretary was quoted as saying, "There’s so many great applications that I saw demonstrated, whether it’s robotics, health care, education — oh my God. I’m just amazed.” Although she didn't mention us by name, its certain that the CRW platform deserves most of the credit for her amazement.

US Secretary of Labor Visits CMU (Courtesy

Also last week, Platypus and a contingent from the CMU Robotics Institute headed to the Inpex Invention Convention, the largest invention trade show in America, to present Platypus to the world and further expand our network of customers and collaborators. At the fair we saw many new inventions and products ranging from a system for wireless power transmission using microwaves to robots for investigating gas pipelines. We even met one individual with a solution for perpetual motion. Unfortunately, he was reluctant to reveal the details of the system to us before he patented his device.
Platypus and CMU at the Inpex Invention Convention
Finally, we put together a new video summarizing much of our work so far on the CRW platform:

Lots of things are going on so check back soon for updates. We promise not to wait 3 months for our next post.