Teams of robots that don’t run out of energy

Let’s imagine a large region affected by an earthquake that needs to be combed for missing persons. Because buildings remain at risk of collapsing, this is a task that is particularly well-suited to robots. Micha Sende addressed this kind of scenario in his doctoral thesis.

“What is special about this is that all the robots have the same role, in other words, no-one acts as coordinator,” Micha Sende explains. His research focuses on energy autonomy, asking questions such as: How much energy do I have left? How much energy do I still need to complete a specific task? How long can I continue to work, and when do I need to recharge? Which charging station should I head for, and which one is free at the moment?

When asked what makes this task rather complex, Micha Sende answers: “A robotic lawnmower or a robotic vacuum cleaner have a comparatively easy job. They know the territory and they usually work alone, not in a team.” Moreover, they do not have to work in an optimised way, i.e. a few extra laps around the living room are usually quite acceptable. But when it comes to searching for missing persons, it is essential that the robots work as quickly and efficiently as possible and that no breakdowns occur.

Above all, the scenario involving several robots and several charging stations had not yet been extensively researched, Micha Sende continues. At this point he also mentions electric cars: Here too, relatively little research has been undertaken to date.

Micha Sende has recently completed his doctorate. Most of the work was carried out at the computer using simulations; towards the end, the scenarios were also tested using real robots. Micha Sende is currently working as a member of the research team at the neighbouring Lakeside Labs GmbH.

Micha Sende first came to Villach as part of his industrial internship for his diploma degree and later he landed a doctoral position in Christian Bettstetter’s research group at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems. “Self-organising systems appeared especially captivating, which is why I focused on this area,” he tells us. He describes their advantage: “By relying on self-organisation, we can build fully functional systems that can no longer be controlled from the outside due to their complexity.”

A few words with … Micha Sende


What motivates you to work in science?
The freedom to work on topics that are not precisely defined in advance and that can yield exciting insights.

Do your parents understand what you are working on?
Yes, by and large. Of course, they don’t understand the highly technical details.

What is the first thing you do when you get to the office in the morning?
I fetch myself some fresh water and check my emails.

Do you take proper holidays? Without thinking about your work?
While I was working on my doctorate, I was never able to relax entirely, there was always something working at the back of my mind. Now that’s done, I can switch off completely. Even a weekend can sometimes feel like a full holiday.

What makes you furious?
Aggressiveness, injustice and thoughtlessness by people towards fellow human beings, animals and nature.

And what calms you down?
Taking a deep breath and thinking rationally.

Who do you regard as the greatest scientist in history and why?
I was particularly fascinated by Alan Turing during my studies. He developed the computer in theory long before it was feasible to consider its technical implementation.

What are you afraid of?
In general, I am very optimistic and don’t tend to feel afraid. Nevertheless, I make sure I follow simple safety measures to minimise risks.

What are you looking forward to?
The tranquillity and challenge that comes with alpine sports.

Best paper award for work on swarmalator systems

Working together in the FWF project “Self-organizing synchronization with stochastic coupling”, Udo Schilcher, Jorge Schmidt, Arke Vogell and Christian Bettstetter co-authored the publication “Swarmalators with stochastic coupling and memory”. This paper won the Karsten Schwan Best Paper Award at the IEEE International Conference on Autonomic Computing and Self-Organising Systems (ACSOS) on 30 September 2021, a prize that recognises the best paper presented at the conference.

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Cloud computing power moves closer to the device: cooperation between the University of Klagenfurt and Ericsson Austria on edge computing

More and more devices send, receive and process data across multiple industry segments: For example, to enable cars to communicate quickly and directly with each other and with the road infrastructure in the future, we need edge computing and the infrastructure of the new 5G mobile communications technology. Research on this topic is proceeding at full speed all over the world. In Austria, Ericsson Austria and the University of Klagenfurt have now joined forces to raise awareness of the importance of future technology and to contribute to its success.

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Self-evaluation tool for teachers: How well do I teach?

When it comes to evaluating the teaching of teachers externally, there are many challenges for everyone involved. However, a self-assessment tool can provide teachers with valuable feedback on the quality of their teaching without openly questioning their abilities. Elisa Reci, a doctoral student at the Department of Informatics Didactics at the University of Klagenfurt, has developed a platform for this specific purpose.

“We need clearly defined standards for different quality levels, and we have been working on these together with experienced teachers,” Elisa Reci tells us, offering a basic explanation of the tool she has developed as part of her doctoral thesis. These precise criteria have now been modelled and incorporated into an online tool that is available to all teachers. “We want to support teachers in reflecting on their teaching and making it even better. This means that the teachers learn: How good am I? And how good do I want to be?”, she goes on to explain.

Originally from Albania, Elisa Reci, who completed her Bachelor’s degree with distinction, came to Klagenfurt for her Master’s degree in Informatics. When she returned to her native country, she spent three years working as a lecturer at the university and as a computer science teacher at a secondary school. “I became very aware that we are struggling to get enough young people interested in computer science, both at school and at university”, Reci tells us. Elisa Reci attributes the hesitancy in choosing to study computer science to the quality of computer science teaching, among other factors: “Ultimately, how well the teaching goes depends on the teacher and their motivation.”

Elisa Reci originally designed her model for computer science classes. However, it soon became apparent that it was also very suitable for other subjects and could generally be a useful support for all teachers, whether they work at the university, in schools, in further education or in other educational sectors.

Elisa Reci returned to the University of Klagenfurt as a predoc scientist and doctoral student and has devoted the past four years at this university to her research. She has already presented her model and the platform at several conferences and in scientific journals, and it has generated a lot of interest. Her contract at the University of Klagenfurt recently came to an end. For now, Elisa Reci wants to stay in science: “I would like to continue my research as a postdoc scientist and am currently looking around to see what opportunities are opening up.”

Visit the self-evaluation platform: https://team-iid.aau.at/welcome

A few words with … Elisa Reci


What motivates you to work in science?

We can all hope for a better future if the generations of tomorrow are well-educated. This motivates me to seek out new ways to improve education.

Do your parents understand what you are working on?

Yes, they do.

What makes you furious?

Injustice.

And what calms you down?

A smile and a hug from someone with a good heart. Every kind gesture motivates me to fight for and demand a better world.

Who do you regard as the greatest scientist in history and why?

I think that every discipline has its important scientist, as each contributes to different areas of life. I would like to single out medicine, as it has the protection of human life at its core.

What are you looking forward to?

To keep working on what I love.

Research team from the University of Klagenfurt tests Mars helicopter in the desert of Israel

The fact that the Mars helicopter “Ingenuity” is currently exploring the Red Planet is partly due to navigation technology co-developed by Stephan Weiss, Professor of Control of Networked Systems at the University of Klagenfurt. Three of his doctoral students are now scheduled to take part in the AMADEE-20 Mars mission simulation organised by the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF) from 4 to 10 October 2021, where they will collect data in the Negev Desert in Israel in order to further refine the helicopter.

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Retracing the travel correspondence of Giovanni Comisso

As a writer, he left many literary traces behind. Yet all too few readers have followed along his linguistic paths, argues Giacomo Carlesso. The doctoral student is preparing his doctoral thesis within the scope of the joint doctoral programme “Italian Studies” at the Università Ca’Foscari Venezia and at the University of Klagenfurt. He talks to us about his fascination with the Treviso author Giovanni Comisso.

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Young drone researchers Agata and Michał Barcis from the University of Klagenfurt and fellow researcher Michał Jagielski win the Drone Bot Contest at Deep Drone Challenge 2021

Agata and Michał Barciś and their fellow researcher from RTB House in Poland, Michał Jagielski, competed in the Drone Bot Contest at the Deep Drone Challenge in Ingolstadt, Germany on Saturday 7 August 2021. The competition is organised by start-up incubator brigkAIR and Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The three young scientists were delighted to receive a prize of 25,000 euros. 

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Calculating the spread of pollutants in cities

One way of gaining a comprehensive understanding of the spread of pollutants in cities would be to set up measuring stations everywhere. But that is not feasible in reality. To address this tricky issue, Iris Rammelmüller, a doctoral student at the FWF-doc.funds doctoral school “Modeling – Analysis – Optimisation of discrete, continuous, and stochastic systems”, is developing mathematical models that can be used to calculate pollutant levels.

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Grundstücks- und Mietpreissteigerungen in der Zweiten Reihe: Studie vergleicht Wohnungsmarktentwicklung in den Brandenburger Städten Fürstenwalde (Spree) und Neuruppin

Was passiert am Wohnungsmarkt außerhalb der Großstädte, wenn diese Städte wieder wachsen? Und welche Strategien können Kommunen nutzen, um leistbare Angebote für alle Bewohner*innen bereitzuhalten? In der aktuellen Ausgabe der Fachzeitschrift “Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie” ist ein Beitrag zu den Entwicklungen auf den Wohnungsmärkten in Brandenburgs Städten der zweiten Reihe erschienen. Der Aufsatz trägt den Titel “Sprung in die zweite Reihe? Zu den lokalen Bedingungen rent gap-getriebener immobilienwirtschaftlicher Aufwertung in Brandenburgs Mittelstädten” und wurde von Richard Bůžek (Institut für Geographie der Universität Münster) und Michael Mießner (Institut für Geographie und Regionalforschung der Universität Klagenfurt) verfasst.

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Robotics research in Klagenfurt enjoys international success: The Karl Popper Doktorats- und Wissenschaftskolleg for Networked Autonomous Aerial Vehicles concludes with a demonstration in south Klagenfurt

With a total of 9 contributions at this year’s ICRA, one of the flagship conferences in the field of robotics, the University of Klagenfurt has joined the league of the world’s most important robotics hubs. Among the contributors are the young researchers from the Karl Popper Doktorats- und Wissenschaftskolleg “Networked Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (NAV)”, which is currently celebrating its conclusion with a drone flight demonstration in Klagenfurt.

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