The WASP meeting with the International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) took place on Lidingö, Stockholm first week of September. Assembled by the Wallenberg foundation, the scientific advisory board provides independent advice and contributes to overall steering of the program. This was the second meeting where the ISAB and the WASP directory board were gathered for two days of presentations of WASP activities and discussions.
The meeting started with a warm welcome by Mille Millnert, chair of the program board, and a brief overview of the main activities of WASP by program manager Lars Nielsen. Nielsen highlighted activities since the last ISAB meeting and described the past year as a year of “build up”. The research program has been initiated as planned and the graduate school has started. The way forward for WASP now includes that a new program in large scale systems has been initiated and that an additional 120 MSek has been awarded to the program aiming towards mathematics and AI/Learning. Measures such as forming a working group for mathematics has been undertaken.
The task of ISAB
The meeting agenda of the first day offered presentations by recruited WASP professors Benoit Baudry, Jeff Yan and Martin Monperrus, and two minute presentations by ten WASP PhD students. During the meeting days the ISAB group got to sit down with the PhD students. “An important channel of communication”, says Richard M. Murray, chair of ISAB. The task of an advisory board is to bring together external experts that can contribute with insight and ideas to all areas of the program, including the graduate school.
“The international scientific advisory board is a group of outside experts, our task includes to talk to the students, the industry and representatives of the faculties to be able to give, hopefully, useful feed back to the program board ” says Murray.
As chair of ISAB, Murray coordinates this conversation and has taken the opportunity to stay in Sweden in connection with WASP meetings, to visit the industry and the universities within WASP.
“There is no other program out there that has the amount of funding and commitment in time, and such good ties to the industry as WASP at the moment” says Murray.
Also the WARAs, the autonomous research arenas, get recognition from Murray.
“The WARAs are unique even independently, and within the program they play an important role” he says.
The potential of WASP that Murray sees is in the education of the future leaders of the autonomous systems revolution. As the field changes rapidly, many opportunities rise, and WASP will facilitate the building of networks between the PhD students, universities and students, and the industry.
Presentations of new project, the graduate school, and WARAs
The second meeting day commenced with an introduction to the Large scale systems- program by Anders Rantzer and Mikael Johansson. The new WASP project aims to form a research cluster for large scale optimization and control.
Fredrik Heinz presented the activities of the graduate school and the results from the evaluation by PhD students. Evaluations after every activity has been prioritized, and generally high grades are obtained from the PhD students. The evaluations revealed the work load of the autonomous systems course to be too high, resulting in a split in two so that the coming course will span a year.
Finally, before the last sessions of the ISAB and the program board, the two WARAs were presented, WARA-PS (public safety) and WARA-CAT (collaborative and autonomous transport). Research and industrial relevance were discussed, and the importance of PhD student involvement was emphasized.