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Sat, Nov 04, 2023

Embry Riddle Students Research Drone Swarm Mapping

Project Selected for Inclusion in NASA Competition

A team of Embry-Riddle students has undertaken research pertaining to drone swarms and the usefulness of such to 3D mapping initiatives within GPS-denied areas. By way of example, the term GPS-denied pertains to locales the likes of building interiors, underground mines and sewer systems, canyon networks, and heavily-forested areas within which GPS signals cannot be easily received.  

Dubbed Swarm Unmanned Aerial Vehicles using Emergence (SUAVE), the Embry Riddle research project was selected for inclusion in the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute’s 2023 University Student Research Challenge (USRC)—selection to which is ornamented with a NASA research grant of up to $80,000.

For its own part, Embry-Riddle’s Office of Undergraduate Research awarded the SUAVE project Ignite and Spark grants.

Project co-principal researcher and Embry Riddle Mechanical Engineering major Daniel Golan stated: “The main application is to map out GPS-denied locations and make a 3D map in a more efficient way.”

Mr. Golan added: “The swarm would spread out and get everything significantly quicker with a lot more data. You are able to get a more accurate map in significantly less time.”

NASA University Innovation project assistant manager Steven Holz remarked: “We’re thrilled to be receiving and awarding more proposals than ever. The students continue to come up with novel and impactful research proposals that we believe will lead them to leaving their mark on the aeronautics industry and beyond.”

The NASA challenge affords students opportunities to put forth hypotheses consistent with the space agency’s research goals. Beyond fostering pure research, however, NASA’s University Student Research Challenge encourages entrepreneurship and social intelligence by requiring participants to raise project monies via crowdfunding.

The Embry Riddle researchers will design and test a prototype germane to the SUAVE project in the school’s Engineering Physics Propulsion Lab (EPPL), then submit data gleaned by dint of subject prototype to NASA in July 2024.

Embry Riddle professor of engineering physics, EPPL director, and SUAVE team faculty mentor Dr. Sergey V. Drakunov set forth: “I advise them on control system design and AI algorithms, but it’s their choice how to implement it. It’s important to give the students that intellectual freedom, it stimulates their creativity and, as a result, they have great ideas.”

Embry Riddle mechanical engineering major and SUAVE project co-principal Bryan Gonzalez confided: “I have had an interest in controls since I came to the Engineering Physics Propulsion Lab, and have worked on controls for exoskeletons and robotic arms here. The swarm is a step outside of my comfort zone, but one that I see great potential in creating a unique nonlinear control system for.”

Mr. Gonzalez is tasked with developing software and control systems for the SUAVE drone swarm. The research team also includes Embry Riddle students: Stanlie Cerda-Cruz, Kyle Fox, Ethan Thomas, Adam Duke, Ryan Ebrahimi, Ryan Taylor, and Nicholas Sontra.

FMI: www.erau.edu

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