Professor Joseph AyersThe Boston Globe article The Bionic Lobster said
Just before dawn, the invasion force approaches the landing beaches. Ahead of it, thousands of Joseph Ayers’ robot lobsters have been loosed from low-flying aircraft and dropped into the shallows. Crawling across the sea floor, these biomimetic devices have been searching for mines and other hazards, clambering over rocks, fighting currents, blowing themselves up at the command of their remote controllers. A pod of robolamprey, meanwhile, has been probing the upper reaches of the water column for floating obstacles and traps, their wakeless, undulatory motion smoothly eluding detection from surface vessels.
Ayers, a professor at Northeastern University, is going to build these robots for the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. As principal investigator in a project involving 22 scientists around the country, he sees his autonomous robots collecting marine-science data and patrolling for pollution. These are the ulterior motives for developing the robots.
“We know more about the surface of the moon than about the ocean below 60 feet,” Ayers says. “A diver can’t go down that deep for long. We need these vehicles to do the work for us.”
Joseph Ayers, Ph.D. is
Professor of Biology, Department of Biology and Marine Science
Center, Northeastern University, Boston and East Point, Nahant,
Joseph coedited Neurotechnology for Biomimetic Robots (Bradford Books) and Bio-mechanisms of Swimming and Flying, coauthored Lamprey Robots, A Modular Behavioral-Based Architecture for Biomimetic Autonomous Underwater Robots, Electronic Neurons: From Biomimetic Robots to Blast Neurorehabilitation, Low Power CMOS Adaptive Electronic Central Pattern Generator Design for a Biomimetic Robot, and The C Around Nahant, and authored Recovery of Oscillator Function Following Spinal Regeneration in the Sea Lamprey, Desktop Motion Video for Scientific Image Analysis, and Dr. Ayers Cooks with Cogñac.
His ongoing projects include:
Color Image and Motion Analysis
Development of ColorImage a true color image analysis program which supports the segmentation and quantification of objects from true (24bit) color images of natural scenes and motion analysis from digital movies. This program now uses the sequence grabber and can digitize from FireWire devices and also supports Cambridge Research Instruments Varispec Tunable Filter. This latter instrument supports real-time digital spectroscopy using the Macintosh. ColorImage is the basis for his current reverse kinematic analyses of lobster locomotion for his DARPA/ONR Lobster Robot program and lamprey locomotion for his Undulatory Robot program. It has been distributed nationally though electronic bulletin boards at National Institutes of Health and MacSciTech for over seven years and on the MacSciTech CD-ROM. With Garth Fletcher (1990-present)
Lobster CPG Simulation
Development of Lobster, which implements a finite state machine for the control of omnidirectional ambulation. This program is the basis of our research program for the development of a lobster-based autonomous robot. Over the past year he has added behavioral sequencing and sensor models to this development platform. (1992-present).
Lamprey CPG Simulation
Ongoing Development of Lamprey, which implements a finite state machine for the control of undulatory locomotion. This program is the basis of our research program for the development of a lamprey-based autonomous robot. This program generates control signals for a 4 segment undulator which can generate lamprey, carp, shark and trout motor patterns. (1994-present).
Lobster Robot Controller
Development of Ambulator II, which implements a controller for the Ambulatory robot with a graphical user interface. The controller portions of this program are translated to C and are integrated with a Persistor interface to form the stand alone controller for the robot. He is currently integrating behavioral sequencing and sensor filters to this development platform. (1997-present).
Lamprey Robot Controller
Development of Undulator II, which implements a controller for the Undulatory robot with a graphical user interface. The controller portions of this program are translated to C and are integrated with a Persistor interface to form the stand alone controller for the robot. He is currently integrating orientational reflexes to this development platform. (1997-present).
Joseph earned his BA in Biology at the University of California, Riverside in 1970, his Ph.D. in Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1975, completed postdoctoral work in Neurophysiology in 1976 at the Centre National de la, Recherche Scientifique, Marseilles, France, and completed additional postdoctoral work in Neurophysilogy in 1978 at the University of California, San Diego.