Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Elizabeth City State University adds Qs to its lab

The Aviation Science Program at the Elizabeth City State University’s Department of Technology is the only four-year collegiate aviation program in the State of North Carolina. Its uniqueness is now underlined by the latest additions of “Qs” to the department’s lab: that is, of Quanser Qball quadrotor and Qbot autonomous robot.

Setting up the Quanser UVS Lab at
the Elizabeth City State University
With these devices and a set of twelve NaturalPoint OptiTrack cameras, Dr. Rawat, Associate Professor and Department Chair can set up a complete unmanned multi-vehicle indoor lab and expand the Control Systems, Mechatronic System Design and Reconfigurable Computing courses, as well as undergraduate capstone projects. Plus the Quanser's Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS) lab  will be used for three new courses, begining in the fall 2014: Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robotics, Advanced Mobile Robotics and Aerial Robotics.

The lab will be also used for research in areas such as sensor fusion, multi-agent collision avoidance and SLAM localization. Using twelve cameras, as opposed to a standard setup with six, allows for a larger workspace and makes it possible to expand the number of agents.

Thanks to the complete turn-key solution with controllers included, and on-site setup assistance from Quanser engineer, Dr. Rawat and his students could start their work right away. While all the sensors needed to cover topics of five courses using the unmanned vehicle lab are already on board, the open architecture design of the lab allows for addition of other sensors in the future.

Collaborative mission: first tests of Quanser Qball quadrotor and Qbot unmanned robot
at the Elizabeth City State University

Dr. Rawat also appreciates comprehensive documentation and courseware that come with the systems – that way he doesn’t have to develop all the course materials from scratch, but can reuse materials developed by Quanser. The supplied open-architecture controllers can also be modified for his educational and research needs, saving him time he would have to spend building controllers.

Dr. Rawat also hopes the demonstration of the cutting-edge unmanned technology will help his university attract high school students and excite them for a career in engineering.

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