Home > Press > Saving Virtual Lives With Nanobots
Computer Science Student to Compete in World Semifinals of Microsoft Competition
Saving Virtual Lives With Nanobots Goal of UH-led Project
Houston, TX | May 12, 2005
Building and controlling a team of nanobots to seek and destroy infected tissue within a simulated terminally ill patient, a University of Houston computer science student and his teammate have advanced to the 2005 Microsoft Imagine Cup world semifinals.
With two consecutive wins so far, Jonathan Dowdall, a UH graduate student, and Mike Hall, his collaborator, have advanced to round three of four in the visual gaming category with their Team ContAInment, the "AI" capitalized to represent artificial intelligence. An annual competition, the Microsoft Imagine Cup challenges participants to excel in one of nine IT-related categories and is designed to recognize students who demonstrate excellence in a diverse range of technical and artistic pursuits. According to Microsoft, entries are expected to address the competition theme to "imagine a world where technology dissolves the boundaries between us."
Out of about 2,000 participants in the world qualifying round March 15, Dowdall and Hall tied with eight others for first place, with Team ContAInment being the only U.S. team in that top group. In the national elimination round April 15, they were the top-scoring team in their division. Now, advancing to the third of four rounds, they will compete in the world semifinals May 15. The first two rounds of competition took place online, as will the third, which will narrow the playing field to six teams that will travel to Japan July 27 to compete in the world finals for a grand prize of $8,000.
As visual gaming participants, Team ContAInment had to write an algorithm to build and control a team of nanobots within the simulated human body of a terminally ill patient. The nanobots are injected into the blood stream to locate and collect infected tissue. While attempting to deliver medicine to these sites, the nanobots are attacked by white blood cells in the patient's immune system. For each round of competition, Microsoft adds another challenge, such as a virus that attacks the nanobots.
"The visual gaming challenge is actually a logistics problem that you are solving, and path planning is a big part of it," Dowdall said. "The strategy involves a collaborative multi-agent programming system of nanobots, and you must give them intelligence - the algorithm - so they know how to react in their environment."
To put it very simply, a computer program written by Team ContAInment tells the nanobots to move up, down, left or right or to follow any other variety of instructions in reaction to what they encounter in the simulated environment.
As head software developer for Associate Professor Ioannis Pavlidis' Computational Physiology Laboratory at UH, Dowdall is well prepared for this challenge. Pavlidis has gained a reputation for his work in medical imaging, bioinformatics, robotics, computational biomedicine and biometrics that have various medical applications. Being part of this research group has given Dowdall a solid background in applying computer science to medicine.
"Projects like this where students are given an opportunity to harness their imaginations often provide the type of forum where ideas are born," said John Bear, dean of the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "It's great to see ingenuity of this caliber receiving worldwide recognition."
For a related story, see Computer Scientists at UH Developing ‘Nurturing’ Computers.
Copyright © University of Houston
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
The "Tipping Point" February 12th, 2014
UCF Researcher Bringing 3-D TV Back From The Dead February 12th, 2014
Diamond Defect Boosts Quantum Technology February 4th, 2014
Iran to Hold 2nd Prototype Nanotechnology Products Competition January 21st, 2014
MANA Research Highlight: Smart nanofibers to treat kidney failure March 6th, 2014
Harris & Harris Group, Inc. Establishes and Invests $350,001 in ProMuc, Inc. March 6th, 2014
First Look at How Individual Staphylococcus Cells Adhere to Nanostructures Could Lead to New Ways to Thwart Infections: Berkeley Lab-led research could guide the development of bacteria-resistant materials March 5th, 2014
Dartmouth Researchers Find Promising Results with Local Hyperthermia of Tumors March 4th, 2014
Squeezing light into metals: University of Utah engineers control conductivity with inkjet printer March 7th, 2014
Up-Converted Radio: The way to treat radio waves in a noisy environment is to turn them into visible light March 7th, 2014
New Data Model Boosts Space Science March 6th, 2014
Carbodeon NanoDiamonds PTFE Coating doubles surface durability and reduces friction by up to 66 percent: New surface coating enables cost-effective CO2 and fuel reductions in machinery March 6th, 2014