PRG/Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar: "An Autonomy Stack for Aerial Vehicles"

Friday, February 21, 2020
2:00 p.m.
2121 JM Patterson
Ania Picard
301 405 4358

PRG/Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar

An Autonomy Stack for Aerial Vehicles

Sanjiv Singh
CEO Near Earth Autonomy
Consulting Professor
Carnegie Mellon Univ


Recent advances in batteries, motors, and sensors allow consideration of tasks such as mapping, exploration, inspection, and transport-- previously only the domain of ground vehicles—to be now conducted by aerial vehicles. While we have been able to automate flight scripted to stay clear of the environment for some time, operation in complex and unmapped environments is new. We might draw inspiration from the avian world to enable navigation from one point to another, but there is a question of how to tie these elements into what we really want these machines to do-- map, explore, and team. This is especially hard given the complexity in control and the constraints on computing and sensing.

In this talk, I will discuss how we might organize familiar capabilities in perception and motion planning to enable safe flight at high speeds in complex 3D environments. Spoiler Alert: we succeed by violating sacrosanct norms of filtering, without needing to resort to Monte Carlo methods. I will provide examples of implementations on aircraft ranging in scale from submeter drones to 10 meters (full-scale helicopters).


Yiannis Aloimonos

Dr. Sanjiv Singh is an innovator, educator, and entrepreneur. He is currently a Consulting Professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University and the CEO of Near Earth Autonomy, a start-up that develops autonomy for next-generation aircraft that will inspect infrastructure, deliver cargo, and transport people.

Dr. Singh started his career in 1985, working on the first autonomous ground vehicles to operate outdoors. Since then, he has led research and development efforts with applications in aviation, agriculture, mining, and construction. In 2010 he led a team that demonstrated the first autonomous full-scale helicopter capable of take-off, landing zone evaluation, and safe descent. In 2011 he led the autonomy effort for Transformer, DARPA's flying car program. From 2012-2017, he led the perception efforts for ONR’s AACUS program that demonstrated high-performance autonomous flight for three classes of rotorcraft. He currently leads several autonomous aerial cargo transport and inspection projects. Dr. Singh obtained his Ph.D. in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon in 1995. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Field Robotics, a TEDx speaker, and a co-founder of 4 companies.

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