Link Lab Focuses on Autonomous Systems, Smart Cities and Smart Health
In the not-too-distant future, roadways will be filled with driverless vehicles. Robots will help all surgeons operate more precisely and safely. Homes will sense how their occupants want to live, and adjust systems to make it happen. The University of Virginia School of Engineering & Applied Science's new Link Lab will catalyze this cyber age.
The Link Lab is a 17,000-square-foot space where researchers and students are developing and deploying systems that link the cyber and physical worlds, such as autonomous cars, smart buildings and medical robots.
Cyber-physical systems have emerged as defining technologies of the 21st century. UVA Engineering announced its cyber-physical systems initiative in October 2015, bringing together researchers from across the Engineering School and University with expertise the technologies and their applications, as well as their focus on keeping systems reliable and secure from failure or cyber attack. Computer Science Professor John A. Stankovic, Link Lab director, co-authored a 2016 National Academy of Sciences report entitled "A 21st Century Cyber-Physical Systems Education."
The lab was one of the first projects funded through UVA’s Strategic Investment Fund, with $4.8 million to build out the space and house a collaborative team of more than 30 faculty members and more than 100 graduate students.
The lab will focus on three primary areas:
- Autonomous systems - Link Lab faculty members are developing the systems that will make previously human-dominated tasks effective and efficient. This includes mobile, wireless communication for autonomous cars; interfaces that allow driverless cars to keep riders informed of what the cars are doing so riders will feel safe and secure, and LED light-wave-enabled Internet connectivity for navigation in places where GPS or WiFi are not available.
- Smart cities - Communities of the future will have access to data and technologies that will allow them to manage their services and infrastructure and provide a better quality of life for citizens. Link Lab faculty are working on such projects as smart storm water management for coastal communities dealing with rising tides; the implications of driverless cars for pedestrians and roadways; and sensing systems to detect infrastructure deterioration such as in bridges.
- Smart health - Many of the Grand Challenges the National Academy of Engineering identifies for humanity in the 21st Centry involve advancing health care. Link Lab researchers are bringing the power of UVA's co-located schools of engineering and medicine to bear, with such projects as robotic systems that help surgeons perform safer, more precise procedures; programs to train future generations of technologically proficient surgeons; and sensors, wearable monitors and other systems to help with home care for the elderly and patients with such conditions as dementia, Alzheimer's and diabetes.
Read Dean Craig H. Benson's Q&A about the future of education and research through the Link Lab.
Read the Engineering School's announcement of its cyber-physical systems initiative.
Read about research projects for the Internet of Things, energy efficiency and wearable health monitors.
Read about research into wireless communications for autonomous vehicles.