York professor receives funding for field robotics research centre

Professor Michael Jenkin and collaborators from York’s Centre for Vision Research have been awarded $711,696 in funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) New Initiatives Fund (NIF) to create a Canadian Centre for Field Robotics (CCFR) at York University. It is expected that this award will be matched by the Ontario government.

Right: Michael Jenkin

Jenkin, a professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering; York Distinguished Research Professor John Tsotsos, Canada Research Chair in Computational Vision; and McGill University Professor Gregory Dudek, will create the CCFR to serve as a national setting for research in robots allowing collaboration between industry and academia on complex outdoor vehicles. The CCFR will include: 

  • A field robotics laboratory for research into terrestrial (ground contact) robotic vehicles capable of operating in complex outdoor environments, unmanned aerial vehicles, aquatic (surface) robotics and unmanned underwater vehicles. 
  • A robotics wheelchair laboratory for research into robotics wheelchairs capable of operating indoors and outdoor urban environments.
  • An outdoor field robot test area for a fully instrumented and networked environment for robot field trials.
  • An indoor aquatic robot test facility for researchers to evaluate autonomous aquatic vehicles.
  • An outdoor aquatic robot test area for experiments with surface and underwater aquatic robots.

“The CFI’s support of cutting-edge research infrastructure has transformed Canada’s research landscape and increased the country’s international competitiveness,” said Eliot Phillipson, president & CEO of the CFI. “Investments like these have allowed York University to become a destination of choice for some of the world’s top research talent.”

York has a long history of research in robots and sensing in our world-renowned Centre for Vision Research, said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “Professor Jenkin’s groundbreaking research has the potential of impacting areas as diverse as the environment, planetary exploration, national security and the delivery of health care. Government investments such as this are crucial in enhancing York’s globally competitive research,” said Shapson.

Funding for this project is part of a major investment of more than $665 million announced yesterday by the CFI to support 133 projects at 41 institutions across the country. Within that, almost $247.7 million was awarded under the Leading Edge Fund (LEF), designed to enable institutions to build on and enhance already successful and productive initiatives supported by past CFI investment. Another $264.7 million was awarded under the NIF, designed to enhance Canada’s capacity in promising new areas of research and technology development. Finally, $153.7 million was awarded under the Infrastructure Operating Fund, which assists institutions with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with the new infrastructure.

For more information and a complete list of projects funded by yesterday’s announcement, visit the CFI Web site.