Mission accomplished

Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016

Emil Petriu in front of a large video screen that shows cars and taxis.
Emil Petriu demonstrates a  traffic surveillance and monitoring system that uses Larus Technologies' Total::Insight Decision Support System. Photo: NSERC
By Mike Foster

Engineering professor Emil Petriu’s expertise in designing multi-sensor monitoring systems, used for space missions and public safety, has been recognized with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) 2015 Synergy Award for Innovation.

The national award comes with a $200,000 research grant that will help fund research by graduate and co-op students enrolled in engineering at the University of Ottawa.

Petriu won the NSERC Synergy Award in partnership with Larus Technologies Corp., a private firm that has worked with Petriu’s research team for years to develop systems that can quickly assess very large volumes of sensor network data.

The partnership has led to many research papers on signal processing, data fusion and computational intelligence control for multi-sensor environment monitoring. It has also helped generate many of Larus Technologies’ security and public safety products. These include the Total::Insight Predictive Risk Aware Decision Support System, which helps protect power stations, energy transportation systems, public gathering places and healthcare infrastructures, as well as in hazard mitigation and disaster management.

“One of the most valuable contributions offered by our partnership is an excellent training environment that exposes participating students to challenging product development issues for a new generation of intelligent, mission-critical sensor surveillance technologies used in four key domains – health, energy, transportation and security,” said Petriu, who holds the University Research Chair in Ubiquitous Computing Technologies and e-Society at uOttawa’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The University of Ottawa’s research initiative, known as the Multi-Sensor Monitoring Systems for Mission Critical and Territorial Security Applications, has so far attracted $4M from NSERC strategic grants, the Ontario Research Fund, MITACS, Ontario Centers of Excellence, and SOSCIP. It has also helped train 28 graduate students.

Claude Laguë, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, said: “I am absolutely thrilled by the selection of Professor Petriu and Larus Technologies for this prestigious NSERC award. It adds to an already long list of internal and external awards that have been bestowed on Professor Petriu since he began his long and productive career at uOttawa Engineering. But this award also recognizes the confidence that a successful company such as Larus Technologies has placed in Professor Petriu and in our faculty.”

The NSERC research grant will also help fund the active involvement of Larus personnel as part-time and adjunct professors, said Laguë.

Claude D’Amours, director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said: “Over the years, the partnership has attracted a number of exceptionally talented and promising graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research personnel, who have benefited from a rich training environment, generous funding and great career opportunities.”

The partnership began when Petriu and George DiNardo, now president of Larus Technologies, worked together at the Canadian Space Agency on space robotics technology projects.

Emil Petriu and three other men look at two computer screens that show images of traffic and lists of numbers. One man points to the screens.
Photo: NSERC
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