Meet the Team: Steven

I am a Computer Engineering Graduate Student, working toward my PhD.  My focus is in embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, robotics, and networked robots.  My Master’s thesis covered the construction and programming of a small network of tiny robots that could communicate with each other and explore a model building in a cooperative, coordinated manner.

 A video of a successful exploration using 3 robots can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GipvllwpOpU

Before I built networks of these robots, I had built just one robot and used it for a college competition known as Micromouse.  Micromouse is a competition in which a robot must explore, map, solve, and then race through a small 16 cell x 16 cell maze.  The robot knows only the size of the maze and the location of the start cell and stop cell when it begins its run.  It must start by exploring and mapping the maze to find routes from start to finish, then it must race along the route that will give it the best time from start to finish.  The robot with the best time wins the competition.  My team and I have taken 1st place 5 out of 6 of the last years at the NW/NE area competitions, and took 2nd the other year.  A video of our winning run from year 5 can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a11M-kZXASA&feature=relmfu

The exciting speed run occurs at time 3:40, so zoom ahead to that point if you want to skip the slower mapping run.

For years I’ve been fascinated with the idea of functional art: devices that perform useful tasks yet look good while they do it, or devices that are mostly artistic in nature yet also have some function.  A few years ago I did my first functional art design: the Digilog clock, a clock with an analog design that uses LEDs to represent the hands of the clock.

Lately I’ve also been growing increasingly fascinated with UAVs, an outgrowth of my years as a private pilot and ultralight flight instructor.  I’ve been informally trained to operate the Aeryon Scout, a nimble and easy-to-fly quadcopter, and have been experimenting with open source hardware and software solutions, specifically the ArduPilot Arduino based open source autopilot system.  I look forward to working more with these systems in the coming years ahead.

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