The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Rolf Mueller, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, for taking lessons from natural systems — like bat sonar — and creating new innovations.
Mueller has traveled the world investigating the bat species, using his fascination with the creatures to further a research program focused on sensing technology for robots. His goal is to find ways in which wave-based sensors can be adapted to excel in a wide range of demanding sensory tasks. In research sponsored by NASA, Mueller and colleagues are developing research prototypes of bioinspired sensing devices.
In research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and other organizations, Mueller and colleagues investigate how the functional diversity in the biosonar systems of bats can be described in a quantitative fashion.
He recently received an IBM Faculty Award to develop computing techniques modeled on the mammalian brain.
The award will fund research on bioinspired computing for real-world audio signals. Ultimately, small portable devices could mimic a human’s ability to extract information from complex sound environments, such as conference calls and noisy rooms.
Mueller is the director of the Center for Bioinspired Science and Technology. The center, which seeks to integrate biology and engineering, is supported in part by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. His group often works at the Shandong University – Virginia Tech International Laboratory on the biosonar sensing of bats. Mueller received a friendship award from the Chinese government and was cited for his involvement in the opening of the international laboratory based at Shandong University in eastern China. Mueller held a professorship at Shandong University before he joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2008.
He received his bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Tübingen in Germany.