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Autonomous helicopter

March 14, 2018

News Briefs

Autonomous Rotorcraft System Nominated for Top Aerospace Award

An Office of Naval Research project to develop fully autonomous helicopters, which included significant contributions by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, has been nominated for the aerospace industry's most hallowed award, the Collier Trophy. Previous winners include the crews of Apollo 11, the Mercury 7 and Orville Wright.

The ONR's Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System, or AACUS, is a package of sensors and software that can be integrated into any existing rotary-wing aircraft to provide autonomous capabilities, including obstacle avoidance, approaches, landings and takeoffs.

ONR said such a system could be used to perform automated military resupply missions in the field, even in contested environments. The technology, however, could have much broader applications.

"AACUS was an open-ended program that did for autonomous flight what the DARPA challenges did for self-driving cars," said Sanjiv Singh, research professor of robotics. The project leveraged decades of research in perception and planning for autonomous flight and prompted Singh and his colleagues to spinoff their own company, Near Earth Autonomy, to help accomplish the project's goals.

"This technology will revolutionize the way we move people and goods," he added.

Find out more.

Construction Begins for Forbes Avenue Improvement Project

Forbes Avenue

Construction for PennDOT's Forbes Avenue Betterment Project is scheduled to begin this month. The project will greatly improve Forbes Avenue from the Birmingham Bridge to Margaret Morrison Street for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists and those using public transportation.

Work in Zone 3 of the project — S. Craig Street to Margaret Morrison Street — is tentatively scheduled to begin March 16 (weekdays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. - 6 a.m.). The first phase of construction through June will include intersection work for traffic signals and utility infrastructure, and ADA curb ramps.

From June to late August, milling and asphalt paving will take place. In August traffic signals will be installed. The project will wrap up during September and October, when final pavement markings, sign installation and traffic signal testing will be done.

Work in Zone 1 of the project — Birmingham Bridge to Craft Avenue — will take place through April 30. Work in Zone 2 — Craft Avenue to S. Craig Street — is scheduled from April 2 through Sept. 21.

Traffic delays and restrictions along Forbes can be expected, except during CMU's commencement (May 20-21) and move-in day for students (Aug. 18 and 22-26). The construction schedule is subject to change based on weather conditions and the availability of materials.

Read more about the project in the Piper.

Find out more from the Oakland Management Transportation Association.

CMU, Pitt, Schell Games Take on Yale in #StatMadness

The University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University and Schell Games team that created the educational technology game “Night Shift” has advanced to round three of #StatMadness. Voting ends tonight (Thursday, March 15) at midnight.

The bracket-style competition is designed to pick the best ideas in biomedical science and is sponsored by the medical and health news outlet, Stat.

Night Shift is a video game that improves doctors’ recognition and triage of severe trauma patients better than text-based learning. It includes behavioral insights from CMU’s Baruch Fischhoff and is designed to tap into the intuitive cognitive processes that rely on pattern recognition and previous experience to make snap decisions using subconscious mental shortcuts — a process called heuristics.

Find out more and vote.

Weekend Changes at East Campus Garage

Parking & Transportation Services has announced that beginning March 23, the East Campus Garage gates will no longer be raised during weekends. While parking in the garage will remain free of charge on the weekends, all CMU faculty, staff and students will be required to swipe their CMU ID card to enter and exit the garage. All non-CMU affiliates will have to pull a ticket to enter and use that same ticket to exit the garage.

Questions should be directed to

New CMU-Alert App Under Development; Emergency Notification System Not Affected

The CMU-Alert mobile app that is currently available for download on Android devices is being discontinued while plans to develop a new version with more functionality are underway. The new version will be made available for download on Android and iOS devices. Information on the new app will be announced when the updated version has been released.

This transition to a new version of the mobile app does not impact the CMU-Alert emergency notification system. Anyone who has registered to receive alerts in the event of an emergency will still be able to receive them.

The CMU-Alert mobile app does not issue notifications or any alerts to a user. It is a static app that provides directions on what to do in 16 emergency situations. That information is now available on the CMU-Alert website.

The CMU-Alert emergency notification system is used to communicate important information to the campus community in an emergency. The system sends voice or text messages to registered phones and emergency alert devices on campus. The messages provide brief details about the nature of the emergency and direct people to for more information, instructions and updates.

All students are automatically registered to receive CMU-Alert messages, and faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for the same. Faculty and staff can register and update their information online at by clicking on the "How Can I Be Notified During an Emergency" link. Students can update their information on the site. Users need their CMU username and password to log in.

If you have questions or concerns, send email to

Proofpoint Acquires CMU Spinoff for $225 Million

Proofpoint Inc., a leading cybersecurity company, has completed its acquisition of a Carnegie Mellon spinoff, Wombat Security Technologies Inc., for $225 million. Wombat, founded 10 years ago by three CMU computer science professors to leverage innovative university research on preventing cyber attacks, is widely recognized as a leader in cybersecurity awareness training.

Wombat founders are Norman Sadeh, professor of computer science and chairman and chief scientist of Wombat, Lorrie Faith Cranor, the FORE Systems Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Public Policy, and Jason Hong, associate professor of computer science.

"Carnegie Mellon consistently produces world leaders in cybersecurity, whose work protects all of us from cyber threats. Their mastery of both the technology and the human elements of computing make us all safer, as individuals, as organizations, and as a nation," said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. "This sale is a tribute to the faculty who created Wombat, as well as to the alumni who are key leaders at Proofpoint, and to all those who are helping to ensure CMU expertise benefits society more broadly."

Learn more.

Last Day To Nominate Your Divisional Staff Council Reps

Nominations are open for the 2018 divisional elections until 12 p.m., Friday, March 16. You can nominate up to five candidates. Refer to the email sent on Monday, Feb. 26 to access your unique link.

Learn more about the 2018 Staff Council Divisional Elections. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Governance, Elections and Membership Committee at

Swartz Center Seeks Innovation Fellows

Applications for the 2018 Swartz Center Innovation Fellows program are now being accepted. The Innovation Fellows program is offered to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and young faculty — the research personnel working directly with faculty investigators on university research. Along with entrepreneurial program content, specialized cohort activities and expert mentoring, Innovation Fellows receive a $50,000 contribution from the Swartz Center (with a $50K match from another source) to support the fellow in the process of commercializing university research. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 6. For questions about this program, please contact Melanie Simko, program manager.

Register for Student Employee Appreciation Lunch

Registration is now open for the Student Employee Appreciation Lunch from noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 11 in the Cohon Center's Rangos Hall. Campus supervisors can host their student employees and join them for lunch to celebrate the great work they do while attending college. Entertainment will be provided by The Originals, one of Carnegie Mellon's all-male a cappella group. Registration deadline is March 31. Admission fee is $7.50

Swimming Team Offers Lessons for Kids

Carnegie Mellon's swimming team is offering 30-minute swimming lessons for children 3 years-old and up beginning this April. Lessons, which will be taught by members of the team, will follow this schedule:

April 2-5 and 9-12: 4:30 - 5 p.m., 5 - 5:30 p.m., 5:30 - 6 p.m., 6-6:30 p.m.

Lessons are $25 each for one to four lessons, and $20 each for five to eight lessons.

Those interested should send email to assistant coach Myles Oliver at with the dates and times you would like, as well as the name of the swimmer(s), age, and a brief description of their ability level. A waiver form must be completed and returned prior to the first lesson.

First Tee Offers Golf Special for CMU

The First Tee of Pittsburgh is offering CMU students, faculty and staff discount prices for practice time in its indoor golf simulator at the Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park.

Regularly $25/hour, foursomes can play two hours in the simulator for $10 each. The cost is $15 per person for one to three players.

You must reserve tee times. Call 412-622-6959 and ask for the "College Special."