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UGA Researchers Work to Deploy GeoAI in a Changing World

Deepak Mishra

A new team of UGA researchers has been established to engage in a series of research efforts focused on optimizing geospatial artificial intelligence. The purpose of this research is to enhance and contribute to public safety and resilience, ultimately benefiting communities, society and the environment. 

The new research is led by Deepak Mishra, Merle C. Prunty, Jr. Professor, Associate Head in the Department of Geography, and Principal Investigator on the new grants projects. The project investigators also include Andrew Grundstein and Thomas Mote from the Department of Geography, Lakshimish Ramaswamy, Suchendra Bhandarkar and In Kee Kim from the School of Computing, and Guoyu Lu from the College of Engineering. Alan Flurry, Director of Communications for Franklin College, recently explored the team’s work and spoke with the investigators in an article for @UGA Research: “The capability to deploy GeoAI for real-time usage will enable first-responders to react rapidly to changes in terrain around the world resulting from climate change and natural disasters. The campus-wide research effort, which includes faculty from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering, is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the capabilities of GeoAI models.

 The work is particularly critical in cold regions around the globe that, as they continue to warm at a rapid pace due to climate change, also become increasingly conducive to commercial shipping, fishing, and other strategic activities. Remote sensing-based terrain awareness builds on existing UGA strengths in satellite-based mapping and modeling, as well as the development of sophisticated 3-D object detection for autonomous navigation applications. “The significant expansion in the need for geospatial AI coincides with UGA’s explosive growth of capacity across the AI research area,” said Deepak Mishra. “Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers’ interest in GeoAI comes at a fortuitous time for the university as we buildout and solidify our AI modeling techniques.” “This research seeks to address some of the fundamental challenges in building effective, efficient and practical AI tools for complex Geospatial problems,” said Lakshmish Ramaswamy, professor and associate director in the School of Computing and a coprincipal investigator on the projects. “Our goal is to design novel AI architectures, algorithms and systems that take into account the unique characteristics of the geospatial domain.”

 “By analyzing satellite data with AI to identify terrain features, we plan to create snow and ground condition maps, optimizing route planning and improving travel safety in cold regions,” said Andrew Grundstein, professor of geography and co-P.I. on the project. Mishra said the teams are currently in the sausage-making phase of the project. “We’re focused on where it’s working and where we have some way to go... the work is progressing, and ultimately the goal is to have the NeRF algorithm to provide to the Army Corps to test in different areas.”


Merle C. Prunty, Jr. Professor and Associate Head, Director, UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory (SSRL)

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