Research

Robotics Autonomy Planning Control

I develop autonomous aerial systems. My research ranges from visual servo control to aerial manipulation to multi-robot teams.

MBZIRC 2020: Team Tartans

I am the student lead for CMU Team Tartans competing in the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge 2020. This competition centers on autonomous robot teams completing tasks in real-world conditions. Specifically, the challenges address airspace safety, construction, and firefighting. Our team focused on 100% autonomous operation, and placed 8th and 4th in Challenges 1 and 2, respectively. In the Grand Challenge we placed 7th. Some key achievements of our team throughout the competition include: one of only four teams to autonomously pick and place a block with a UAV; most water shot onto outdoor fire with an autonomous UAV; only team to fly through a building window autonomously.

AirLab research page

MBZIRC 2020 website

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Cooperative Block Stacking with UAV and UGV Teams

[In collaboration with Kevin Zhang]

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are often used to perform complimentary tasks for completing team missions, e.g., a UGV opening a door for a UAV, or a UAV scouting an area for a UGV. However, to maximize the benefits of such heterogenous teams, the robots will also need to be capable of performing tasks together, with physical interactions between the UAVs and UGVs.

In this work, we present a collaborative framework for performing robust manipulations using teams of UAVs and UGVs. In particular, we propose a method for jointly placing and stacking objects that exploits the UAV's mobility and the UGV's precise position and force control. The UAV is used to move the block, while the UGV's manipulator provides a surface for aligning and adjusting the block. The two robots thus reflect the two hands in a bimanual placing task when mating or aligning two surfaces. The sensors from both robots are used to monitor the overall process and detect errors. We evaluated the framework on an accurate block stacking task, in which we achieved 3 of 4 block placement attempts and were able to accurately align the block in instances when it was within the UGV manipulator’s alignment workspace.

UAV with magnetic end-effectorUGV with shield attachment and magnetic end-effector with block attached
Tilthex taking measurement from airplane wingTilthex 6-DOF UAV platform

Contact Inspection with Fully-Actuated UAVs

Infrastructure inspection is a dangerous job that typically requires heavy machinery and a crew of operators and engineers. There is an opportunity to aid such projects with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs benefit from high mobility and portability, and a semi-autonomous system could be used by workers to take measurements from bridges, dams, and even large aircraft. While UAVs are traditionally used for sensing from a distance (cameras, lidar), this project worked on taking in-situ measurements with a sonic depth gauge that required second-long contact. My main contributions to this work includes visual servoing to user-selected targets and working with the tilt-hex system, consisting of a fully-actuated hexarotor with tilted rotors.