Charbel Rizk: Low Cost Autonomous Systems – Challenges and Opportunities

April 19, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall


The sophistication of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as drones, is increasing while their cost is decreasing and is quickly approaching consumer prices. This technology, like most others, adds tremendous value to humanity but also challenges. This dichotomy has motivated our research from the early 90’s to develop more capable platforms and more recently to explore technologies that can mitigate the risks associated with drone proliferation. We will present examples of our work on both sides of this spectrum. One particular area with tremendous potential impact is on the sensor and processing (payload) side. We have been the thought leaders on computational sensors and are on a path to reaching size, weight, and power constraints commensurate or exceeding biological equivalents. This revolution in integrated sensing and computing is likely to enable a new class of autonomous and very capable systems. In particular, we are exploring the interface between biological and engineered systems. Biological creatures are highly efficient, autonomous, and mobile with minimal sensory requirements. Their endurance and mobility remain far unmatched especially as the size decreases and that is the subject of intense research. We believe that solutions that build on the best of both worlds may produce better performance than either on its own and our focus is on the optimal integration of engineered payloads with natural hosts. Another complementary area of our research is small robotics with our recent focus for endoscopic medical procedures. In particular, we are developing a self-propelled aiding endoscope based on biomimetic peristaltic locomotion, and potential solutions may reside in what is becomingly known as soft robotics.


Dr. Rizk is currently an Associate Research Professor for JHU ECE, a lecturer for JHU ME, a Science and Technology (S&T) and Innovation consultant for JHU APL, local industries, and government leadership, and an entrepreneur. Prior to Nov 2016, he was a Principal Staff, Systems/Lead Engineer, S&T Advisor, Innovation Lead, member of the S&T committee, and member of the Innovation Steering Group for the Air and Missile Defense Sector at APL. He has had 15 intellectual property filings since 2014 and received 9 internal and external achievement awards. He has been recognized as a top innovator, thought leader, and successful Principal Investigator, and has demonstrated an effective model for R&D that yielded multiple innovative and far-reaching concepts and technologies. He was a pioneer in UAV technology and led a small team that developed and demonstrated the first four-rotor (quad copter) UAV system in the early 90’s. More recently, he has been the forerunner in developing a new multi-mode / multi-mission sensor architecture that is low C-SWaP and likely to revolutionize the associated missions/applications space and platforms. In addition, he is currently developing a new vision for future unmanned systems. Dr. Rizk has been teaching the Mechatronics courses at JHU since Spring of 2015 and is developing a new design course to be offered in Fall 2017 for which he was awarded a teaching innovation grant. During his APL tenure, he also provided systems engineering and S&T support to senior DOD leadership and large acquisition programs. In addition to providing effective technical, innovative, and mentoring leadership and management, Dr. Rizk has demonstrated a collaborative spirit, successfully working with various FFRDC’s, government labs, academia, and industry of various sizes. He also made key contributions during his time at Rockwell Aerospace, McDonald Douglas, and Boeing. He is a senior member of IEEE, AIAA, and a member of AUVSI.


Laboratory for Computational Sensing + Robotics