NSERC Presents 2 Minutes with Alejandro Ramirez-Serrano

NSERC Presents 2 Minutes with Alejandro Ramirez-Serrano


Our field of research is what
we call unmanned vehicles. Some people call it mobile
robotics. We cover the aspects of control, navigation,
sensing, path planning —all the things that are involved
in how to make a vehicle move that traditionally humans
do normally every day in their lives. That’s what
we do. We just want to have the vehicle reason, make
decisions, and execute on mission. For example, after an earthquake,
let’s assume that a building collapsed. Usually it takes us
eight hours or so for rescue people and dogs, even animals, to
go there and search for victims. So a robot, if it’s fully autonomously,
and it can actually make decisions in an environment that people
say no, we don’t even know how it’s going to look like, he can
start searching for victims while officers and inspection people
make sure that the building is good for the search and rescue
personnel to go in. We might know where they are, where
their problem is, and what can we do to help them. This vehicle, there’s pretty
much on the – I would not say everything under the sun,
but there’s sensing, there’s diverse sensors, electronic
sensors, cameras, infrared, gas sniffers, there’s gyroscopes.
There’s a whole range of sensors that are typically
used in many other applications, but we use
them here to be able to control the aircraft, and
also for the aircraft or the vehicle to monitor itself so
that it can make more decisions. This vehicle is unique because, in
theory, it can do things that no other vehicle can do. And one
of the things that it can do, it’s hover pitch. So basically, we
can have the vehicle pitch at different angles and maintain it
in that attitude for as long as we want. For example,
a helicopter can hover, but it cannot really pitch.
By having it pitch, we can actually have this vehicle
perform manoeuvres that no other aircraft can do. And by
doing that, we can actually land and take off from high
slopes, for example up to 40 degrees, so where a traditional
helicopter would not be able to land. NSERC has been a tremendous
help in these efforts, especially because it
allows us to actually bring students, train them, and have
the multidisciplinary team that otherwise it would not
be possible. This research, even though it’s
a challenge, at least for me it’s also fun. You’re able to see
your work actually help people.

Eugene Islam

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