Fulton Awarded Prestigious NSF Fellowship

Michel Fulton
May 20, 2019

Second-year Ph.D. student Michael Fulton was awarded a competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2019.

Fulton was awarded the fellowship for his research into using autonomous underwater robots to find trash in large bodies of water. The goal of his research is to map out trash deposits so that robot or human efforts can be used to clean them up.

“It's a very important problem, as trash is rapidly choking our oceans, lakes, and rivers, and there is no good method for removing it,” said Fulton. “Dredging water bodies is biologically destructive, nets and seabins can only collect floating trash, and human-powered cleanup events are costly and time-consuming. Autonomous underwater vehicles hold the key to this problem, by allowing an intelligent agent that doesn't need air to swim around the entirety of the water body and then find and map the locations of trash.”

Fulton hopes that his work in human-robot interaction will help with trash cleanup and produce a positive impact on water bodies across the globe. Ultimately, his aim is to improve the ability of robots to integrate into society and assess their most promising applications, like serving as aides for the elderly, disabled, or ill.

Much of Fulton’s work in human-robot interaction is in the area of Robot Communication Via Motion (RCVM), a technique through which non-humanoid robots can use expressive motions to communicate messages to human partners. In addition to his work with underwater robots, he is working on a similar project with AUVs to improve the capability of local parks departments to gather date on the ecosystem health of the water bodies under their care.

Please join CS&E in extending our congratulations to Michael Fulton.

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