In my first term as an Undergraduate Researcher, I worked under Dr. Gerald Cook to build an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) which was capable of finding and tracking color blobs from air using on-board computing capabilities. The high level goal of our project was to make a simple low cost vehicle which could be used by search and rescue teams. In the end of the semester I presented my initial results and the UAS system in the Volgenau School of Engineering Celebration of Research. Following the same goal, this semester I am working on a bigger project with a team of senior class engineers to make an UAS that could augment more aspects of a Search and Rescue mission by autonomously planning near-optimal paths across a search map, detecting humans in aerial perspective using on-board capabilities and delivering a rescue package. While in the first term as an Undergraduate Researcher I learned how to work individually, this semester I am learning how to be a Project Manager for a team of potential engineers.
This project has challenged me in many new ways and shown me that my passion is actually a combination of my research interests towards aerial robotics and my desire to make an impact in people’s lives. On a weekly basis I meet with my team three times. In the first meeting we lay down a list of challenges for the week. In the second meeting we meet with our advisor, Dr. Gerald Cook, to talk about our progress and in the third meeting we collect data outdoors using our quadcopter.
We have been collecting pictures with our quadcopter to work on computer vision algorithms that would better detect humans in the images. A couple of weeks ago we noticed that we were getting blurring in the images due the camera stabilizer. As an attempt to solve the blurring problem, last Sunday, we decreased the shutter speed of the camera and took more pictures. We collected about 400 pictures and showed the results to our advisor. Our plan is to decrease the shutter speed even more to see the effects clearly.