Faculty members awarded grant for infrastructure planning project

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a one-year, $150,000 grant to a group of CWRU faculty members in support of their project, “FW-HTF-P: Distributed Intelligent Assistant to Infrastructure Inspection Workers.” The recipients of the grant are Xiong “Bill” Yu, principal investigator of the project and professor of electrical engineering; and co-PIs Youngjin Yoo, professor of design and innovation; Yanfang “Fanny” Ye, professor of computer and data sciences; Ming-Chun Huang, professor of electrical, computer and systems engineering; and Kathryn Daltorio, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The infrastructure inspection industry employs tens of thousands workers in the private sector. The public sector also maintains an in-house workforce to inspect public infrastructure such as interstate highway, bridges, levees, etc. While there are significant advancements in robotics and information technologies, there are major technical barriers to make them fully integrated to augment human inspection and judgment. Consequently, human inspection remains as the mainstream for information collection across a variety of infrastructure sectors.

This planning grant aims to define the road map toward how robotics and AI-driven techniques can be seamlessly integrated with human inspectors to improve their efficiency, reliability and safety. The hypothesis is that the nexus of inspection workers and technology will support sound data-driven infrastructure decisions, and therefore help improve the level of service of the existing infrastructure system as well as better target high payoff futuristic infrastructure investments. It therefore will explore the frontier of human-technology nexus in domain with high impacts on the welfare of the infrastructure inspection workers as well as on the general public.