AI to innovate research on
animal (including humans and robots) movements.
“Hierarchical bio-navigation integrating cyber-physical space” has been accepted as a research area for the “Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A)” in FY 2021. This program is an initiative that aims to drastically change and transform conventional research approaches through the interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers with various specialties and skills.
Our ancestors started walking upright six million years ago and became fully upright bipeds about three million years ago. With their mobility, they spread from Africa to the rest of the world where they prospered. From the dawn of humans to the present, movement or migration has always been of great importance and a driving force for evolution. In addition, not only humans, but also animals, including bacteria and viruses, have spread by the migration of hosts and their contact with other individuals.
Movement is the basis of life, and the world is made up of things, including humans, organisms, and artificial objects, that keep changing their positions. Many researchers have long been interested in the diverse and complex forms of movement and locomotion and have attempted to understand the mechanisms and establish research methodologies. However, exploring elusive behavioral systems with a mixture of various factors has been accompanied by many challenges and limitations.
Specialists in engineering, biology, and informatics are setting up research programs to reach a goal of understanding movements and navigation that nobody has been able to achieve yet––the science of movement. We will measure and control animal movements in the physical space (real world) and simulate them in the cyberspace (data world). AI can connect physical and cyber spaces tightly and smoothly. The vast amount of behavioral data obtained in the physical space will be modeled in the cyberspace, and the complex biological behavior will be expressed as sophisticated mathematical and machine learning models. In addition, feedback from the cyberspace to physical space and repetition of the simulation analysis will refine the model. Elucidating the movements of organisms related to various factors creates new integrated research that transcends the boundaries of fields such as biology, engineering, and information science.
Our goal is to create a new discipline, “Hierarchical Bio-Navigation,” which will fundamentally transform methodologies and technologies to solve problems related to animal movements. Elucidating the essential components of movement and their causal relationships will lead to the design of safe, secure, and efficient societies and lifestyles (e.g., congestion-free roads, avoidance of car collisions, construction of optimal logistics and work routes, early detection of changes in cognitive function), and the coexistence of humans and wild animals (e.g., management of wild animals appearing in human settlements, monitoring the habitat of virus-transfer from animals). Understanding, predicting, and controlling animal movements are of great importance and have potential applications in various fields. Please, follow our challenging road of being at the front line of navigation research, driven by innovative ideas.
Career : 1990 Research Associate, Osaka University; 1994 Lecturer/Associate Professor, Okayama University; 2000 Associate Professor, University of Tokyo; 2004 Professor, Tohoku University; 2002–2009 Researcher, JST PRESTO and SORST; 2015–2021 Vice Dean of Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University; 2016–2020 Group leader of Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Systems science of bio-navigation”. Keywords: robotics, computer vision, trajectory mining.
Committee Membership/Awards : Vice President and Fellow of the Robotics Society of Japan; Fellow of the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers; Senior Member of IEEE; 2021 Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (Research).