Carnegie Mellon's Interactive Web Site "Big Signal" Allows Public
To Explore Antarctica Through a Robot's Eyes
Big Signal, an interactive
Web site and interface for remote experience currently featuring
a robot named Nomad searching for meteorites in Antarctica, is now
available to the public.
The site has been deployed at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural
History, where it will be available to users at a Macintosh computer
cluster for the next month. It also will be used by teachers in
classrooms at Pittsburgh's Arsenal Middle School, Greenfield Elementary
School, and Columbus Middle School, as well as suburban locations,
including Peters Township Middle School, Keystone Oaks High School
and Quaker Valley Middle School.
Big Signal, a two-year project directed by Peter Coppin, a research
fellow in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry in Carnegie Mellon's College
of Fine Arts, gives users the experience of exploring a remote location
through Nomad's sensors, including a 360-degree panoramic camera
and other devices that allow students to engage in remote geology.
Big Signal receives information from Nomad daily, making the robot's
expedition easily accessible to users.
Nomad, a planetary rover prototype, is funded by NASA and was created
at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. The principal researcher
on the Nomad project is William L. "Red" Whittaker and the project
manager is Dimitrios Apostolopoulos.
"Big Signal extends the senses of ordinary people to a faraway
place and lets users engage in a real remote experience" said Coppin.
"The goal of Big Signal is to place students in a real scientific
setting by giving them access to the same data that a scientist
would access." NASA recently gave Coppin and colleagues at the Robotics
Institute a three-year, $500,000 grant to develop "EventScope,"
an enhanced system based on Big Signal. EventScope will allow its
users to feel as if they are conducting their own scientific explorations
when NASA sends rovers to other planets.
Pittsburgh-based Three-Rivers Connect and the Heinz Endowments
are providing more than $70,000 in matching funds for EventScope.
The Big Signal project has received more than $100,000 from foundation
sources, including the Heinz Endowments, Grable Foundation and the
Henry Clay Frick Fund of the Buhl Foundation. Engineers from the
Robotics Institute, the college of engineering and the university's
Center for Innovation in Learning have contributed to the project.
William Cassidy, professor of geology and planetary science at
the University of Pittsburgh, and Kurt Schwehr of NASA's Ames Research
Center, have also contributed to Big Signal. Web hosting has been
provided by the Electronic Information Network, a collaborative
project of the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA), Carnegie
Library of Pittsburgh and the Commission on the Future of Libraries
in Allegheny County.
Experience Nomad's search for meteorites at www.ri.cmu.edu/~meteorobot2000
To join Nomad's search for meteorites in Antarctica, visit www.bigsignal.net
Meg Siegel (412) 268-5765
Anne Watzman (412) 268-3830