The University of Toledo’s Smart Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Exploration team took first place at the 2014 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Competition.The competition was a national indoor unmanned aerial vehicle challenge held at the Ohio Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference Aug. 25 and 26 in Dayton, Ohio.
The team was given the task of developing a quad rotor-based unmanned aerial vehicle — also called UAV — that was capable of navigating autonomously in an indoor environment filled with obstacles. In addition, the UAV was required to search and identify a specified target and transmit the target’s geographical location to a ground station.
Alireza Nemati, a doctoral student majoring in electrical engineering and computer sciences, led the team that consisted of undergraduate students Eric Schnipke and Steve Reidling, graduate students Mehdi Hashemi, Jisheng Li and Padmapriya Sampathkumar, and doctoral student Mohammad Sarim.The team worked under the supervision of Dr. Manish Kumar, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
“We initially thought the project was going to be easy, but it turned out to be more challenging that we originally anticipated,” Nemati said.
The team worked for close to six months on the design and construction of the UAV.
“This is a project that the students really got excited about. For close to a month, everyone on the team was pulling all-nighters,” Kumar said. “They put in a lot of hard work completing the project, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishment.”
While it was the first time the competition was held, the team expects to compete in the event again, Kumar said.
The award also comes with an $8,000 prize that will be used to participate in future competitions.