The Year 2000 Senior Design Team won the "Entrepreneurship in Technology" $1000 prize using a kite to acquire aerial photos. Virtual flythroughs of Center City and Walnut/36th St can be toured. Motivating their work was mitigating disasters - where crippled runways or halts in air traffic prevent traditional means to acquire much needed aerial images.
This year's team would design and prototype an alternative to kites. Envisioned is a single-propeller vehicle that could ascend 1000 feet, lift a 3 lb payload and fit in a knapsack. Such a system would appeal to search-and-rescue and emergency medical services that require easy-to-fly, quickly deployable and portable flight vehicle. One potential design is the scale a familiar hobby craft to meet the envisioned specs. Alternatively there is the Dragan Fly vehicles
Kite Aerial Photography links:
Video cameras are often mounted on hand-held, vest-worn or vehicle-mounted rigs. Such rigs, often gimballed, are used to mechanically stabilize camera motions and prevent "Blair Witch Project" type image jitters.
Such stabilization has advantages over digital techniques that cannot distinguish between camera movements and motions in the scene. Digital image processing however can be used to visually lock on to a target; target image pixel coordinates can be used to command pan and tilt motors to automatically rotate the camera and hence keep the target in camera view.
The mechatronic integration of digital image processing and gimballed rigs can significantly impact broadcasting, surveillance and inspection tasks. The team would build a stabilizing rig. To be mounted on this rig, the team would also design and build a motorized pan-tilt unit that holds a camera. Our robotics lab has digital processing hardware that can identify a target by color and issue its pixel coordinates to the pan-tilt unit. The end result of all this integration is a hand-held, mechanically stablized, automatic target tracking camera. Potential opportunities to attend sports events to test athlete tracking may be possible.
Air muscles are novel actuators that contract when inflated pneumatically. Kinematically they act similarly to human muscle. A previous mechatronic neck prototype was designed using two air muscles and emulates lateral (side-to-side) head motions.
This year's team would create a four air muscle prototype, in order to add nodding head motion. Alternatively, the senior design team could conceive of alterative devices that could benefit from such unique actuators.
[Q] Would you like to be my/our senior design project advisor?
[A] Before committing to this, I'd like the team to give a short presentation. It would state
end-goals, timeline, team skillsets for accomplishing the project and list resource/budget
needs. A hardcopy printout (e.g. PowerPoint) would be appreciated to serve as a
discussion focal point. It serves to see where and if I can facilitate the end-goals.
[Q] What sort of skillsets are needed?
[A] Students with 3.0 GPAs and above, willing to learn, work hard and
meet regularly are more than welcome to discuss potential projects.
Students who have part-time, rigid work schedules, should be advised
that I like to meet at least once/week to discuss project progress.
[Q] What do you and your projects have to offer?
[A] I believe the above projects have strong market/research value. Some are recurring themes
listed in business/engineering solicitations (e.g. NSF/DoD/DARPA/SBIR/STTR see list
below). As such, I believe seniors successful in deliverables will own valuable
IP (intellectual property) that can accelerate academic ambitions or entrepreneur startups.
My startup, Boondog Automation was started 3 years ago and I learned
some valuable lessons I hope to pass on to students interested in their own ventures.
With working prototypes in hand, potential funding from solicitations can fund
serve for future venture capital for student startups.
I began my Drexel career Sept 2000 and have been given the charge to deliver a first-class
robotics/mechatronics/sensors/smart-structures research lab. Towards this end I am endeavoring
to stock the lab with high-tech equipment and find capable student researchers/developpers.
Together we would spotlight Drexel MEM in advanced research and product/solution development.
[Q] So what should I do in the next few days/weeks?
[A] Email to alert me of your interests and schedule a potential presentation date. Please avoid
Mondays if possible :-)