Information technology is changing our lives at a speed often beyond to our ability to adapt. Ubiquitous connectivity, portable computing, pervasive sensing, novel interfaces, massively parallel computing units, and advances in mechanical devices and actuators are changing our lives, our work habits, our formal education, and our social interaction, just to name a few high-impact areas. In order to truly benefit the broader population, commodities based on these novel technologies need to be autonomous and interactive. They must be capable of anticipating user needs, managing complex and unforeseen situations on their own, seamlessly interfacing with casual end-users, and gracefully terminating their functioning when unrecoverable errors occur. Autonomy and interactivity are a must for a broad range of human-centric systems designed to improve numerous daily activities. Failure to reach such goals will exacerbate the growing gap between a minority capable of benefiting from these advancements and a majority unable to overcome the end-user entry barrier, thus exacerbating the growing technological divide with far-reaching negative consequences.
Center for Autonomous and Interactive Systems
CITRIS has launched the development of a new Center for Autonomous and Interactive Systems at the Merced campus. The work being conducted and envisioned through CAIS has broad applications and focus on reliability and robustness that intelligent systems will have to achieve in order to be trusted by all members of society: the ability to autonomously act and/or cooperate with people on individuals’ terms. The Center focuses on systems that can be used to train and assist people in preparation for or during complex and difficult situations. This encompasses a broad class of technologies, such as mobile robots, digital virtual characters, and embedded systems, just to name a few. These systems can operate in various ways, from being fully autonomous, remotely operated, or sporadically controlled by human beings. Their design can also vary considerably. They can be programmed by composing carefully engineered simple functionalities, or they can be taught high level concepts that can be reused and generalized to different contexts. All these topics concern the development of new methods and algorithms for achieving truly autonomous and interactive systems.