Hiroaki Fukushima

Professor, M.S. in Engineering, Ph.D. in Informatics
KUAS-E has numerous attractive features for international students, such as offering all classes in English, having the latest cutting-edge facilities on site, practical projects with companies, ideal location, and so forth. If you are looking for a place to study Engineering in Japan, Kyoto University of Advanced Science is the place for you!
Areas of Research
Motion Control of Robots, Multiple Robot Systems
  • Profile
  • Research
  • Dr. Hiroaki Fukushima received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Engineering and Ph.D. degree in Informatics from Kyoto University, Japan in 1995, 1998 and 2001, respectively. He continued working in academia, working as a research fellow for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science from 2001 to 2004. During this time, he also spent time as a visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego. From 2004 to 2009, he worked as a research associate and assistant professor at the University of Electro-Communications, Japan. Following this stint, he worked at Kyoto University from 2009 to 2019, first as an assistant professor and then as a junior associate professor.

    Dr. Fukushima’s research interests include control system design of mobile robots such as snake-like robots, mobile inverted pendulums, and swarm robotics.

    In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his daughter and son.

  • Opening New Frontiers through Advancements in Swarm Robotics

    Scientists have been fascinated by swarm behavior for decades, though it originated in the natural world. It is still incredible to think of the complexities of an ant colony, or the accurate migration patterns that birds or fish exhibit. More recently, there has been a growing trend to adapt these patterns to machines, especially robots. Dr. Fukushima has made swarm robotics his major field of research. He aim for his research to contribute to major societal applications across various fields.

    The reason why this field has been garnering attention is that recent advancements in technology have completely transformed what a swarm of robots is able to accomplish. The trend has moved from centralization to decentralization. Currently, centralized algorithms are used to control multiple robots in most cases. In drone shows, for example, target trajectories of all drones are determined in advance, so that the swarm of drones generate animations given beforehand. However, in applications where target trajectories or deployment of robots need to be decided in real time in response to circumstances, such centralized algorithms become increasingly difficult to apply due to computational and communication loads. This is because in centralized algorithms, trajectories of all robots are decided on one central computer based on the information collected from all robots, and then sent to each robot through wireless communication. Looking back on birds and fish, they obviously are not given any target swarm shape. They decide their own trajectories based on the local information such as the positions and velocities of neighbors, which results in the generation of various shapes of swarms. In that sense, they use a decentralized algorithm. Decentralization makes control algorithms of robotic swarms scalable. In other words, the total number of the robots has little effect on the computational and communication loads, since movements of each robot are only affected by their neighbors.

    Dr. Fukushima currently studies navigation algorithms of groups of robots that target a point in areas filled with obstacles. In order to move robots through obstacle environments, the shape of the swarm needs to be changed, as to avoid getting stuck or colliding in narrow spaces. Decentralization is necessary to achieve this in real time. One immediate practical application of such decentralized navigation algorithms that comes to mind is transportation, which can range from industrial applications (e.g. in factories) to the provision of medical supplies in a disaster area. Indeed, the extreme environments are where the field of swarm robotics has the greatest potential. In other words, if robot swarms can operate in such environments, they will reduce human risk and save lives. Application of robot swarms can include the aforementioned transportation, but also demining, search and rescue, sensing (e.g. of vital signs) as well as cleaning up toxic spills. Coming up with solutions for these applications, which take place in inherently unstable and unpredictable environments, is exactly what Dr. Fukushima is working on as he continues his research. Without a doubt, swarm robotics is another field of engineering with profound real-world potential.