Friday, December 10, 2021

2021-12-10: Dr. Danette Allen Delivers NCSU ECE Commencement Address

Dr. Danette Allen addresses the NCSU ECE graduating class of Fall 2021

On December 10th, Dr. Danette Allen delivered the commencement address at the NCSU ECE Fall 2021 Commencement Ceremony. She is a proud NCSU alumna with undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering and was honored to return to her alma mater to speak to the up and coming generation of electrical and computer (ECE) engineers. 

Danette on the "big screen" at Reynolds Coliseum

During her 15 minutes of fame, Danette shared three of her favorite colloquialisms: 

  1. Keep your head down and keep coloring!
  2. Keep your eyes on the prize!
  3. Proceed until apprehended!

and closed with the following words of advice:

  • Embrace the power of "yet".
  • Contribute to your 401k.
  • Read "Stranger In a Strange Land".
  • Proceed until apprehended!

If you want to understand how all of these threads tie together, you'll just have to watch her address. The ceremony was nearly 90 minutes long so, if you'd like, skip ahead to 18:58 or go directly to her introduction and remarks.

Friday, June 12, 2020

2020-06-12: Autonomy Incubator Welcomes Summer 2020 Interns

Ai Interns took to video call for the annual group photo.

There's no doubt that 2020 has been a year for the history books. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, our world has changed dramatically over the past few months, causing many to have to move all of their work home.

The Autonomy Incubator values their internship programs, where undergraduate and graduate students are given the opportunity to gain real-world experience at NASA. Though this summer took an unexpected shift, Ai head Danette Allen made sure to still offer high-quality experiences for this year's interns.

Without further ado, let's meet who will be working with us this summer!

Carson Adcock

First is Carson Adcock, a rising junior Computer Science major at George Mason University. This is his first official internship with the Autonomy Incubator, but he is no stranger to the team. Carson has been volunteering with us since September of 2017.

During his internship, he will be using Blender and Creo to create and polish 3D accurate models for the Ai's simulations.



Next up is Nate Hartley, a senior Computer Science major at Duke University. This is Nate's first summer working with the Autonomy Incubator; however, his sister is Abbey, the former Social Media intern from 2015 to 2017.

This summer he will be working on creating a database and website to display different sensor characteristics as well as helping with human-machine learning experiments.


Third is Amanda Heyman, sister of yours truly. She just graduated from Christopher Newport University with degrees in Psychology and French and will soon begin her graduate studies at the University of Michigan for Social Work.

This summer she will be working with Meghan Chandarana at the Ai, where they will be researching and developing an experiment related to human-machine interaction, focusing on characterizing the cognitive limitations of human operators managing multiple-agent teams.

Payton Heyman

Finally, it is I, Payton Heyman, back for another summer as the Ai's Social Media Intern. After finishing my second year at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I'm ready to bring my social media skills to the test during this virtual internship. Get ready for a summer of green screens and video calls! ;)

It wouldn't be a celebration without a round of high-fives.

We're so happy to still be able to intern this summer despite the circumstances. I look forward to seeing all of the great projects, and we hope you are too! 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

2019-12-05: Herbie Returns to the Ai Flight Space for Another Mission

Kyle McQuarry and Andrew Miloslavsky reset and position the rover
for another day of testing.

Herbie, one of the Autonomy Incubator's (Ai) beloved rovers, was brought back into the flight space again for more rounds of testing today.

The team's goal was to measure the rover's ability to follow a specific mission autonomously.

Andrew and Kyle push code and view the rover's movements
from the control room.

Herbie was built by Ben Kelley in 2015, meaning he turned four years old this fall! He has been through a lot since his creation because of his high adaptability.

Herbie is a fan favorite.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019-11-27: Inertial Transfer Research Uses an End Effector to Catch and Grasp

Intern Justin Goddeau has been working in the realms of inertial transfer as part of the In Space Assembly research at the Autonomy Incubator.

For this demonstration, an end effector had been added to the arm so that it can actually grasp the puck on the air bearing table now.

Watch this short video to see it in action!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

2019-11-26: MIT Students Visit the Autonomy Incubator for Continued Search and Rescue Research

Katherine, Kyel, and Yulun analyze the programming during the test.

In October, three MIT students visited the Autonomy Incubator again to continue their research with search and rescue missions.

The three students, Katherine Lie, Kyel Ok, and Yulun Tian, have visited several times in the past. In fact, you can read about one of their visits here!

Fortunately for us, the Virginia weather wasn't quite too cold yet, and we could bear the outdoors without the risk of potentially freezing.

The specific goal this time around was to test an integrated real-time exchange of information of the UAVs. The team added two new modifications that are unique to how we normally run our search and rescue tests. The first of which was the person-detection itself, and Loc Tran actually printed a life-sized portrait of his son to act as the lost hiker.

Loc's cardboard-son was our stand-in missing person.

As hysterical as that is, it was actually very successful!

The person detection was running on-board, and they were able to get some great detections of the person and even the co-pilot.

The drone successfully detected the fake Felix.

This was their first time testing with the on-board person detection, rather than off-board, so the drone was actually flying around with a camera and doing the search.

"It was a nice way to tie everything together because now it's doing the actual detecting," Loc said. "It puts a stamp on the search part of the search and rescue mission."

The second modification was "a bit more behind the scenes," as Loc said. Since they were testing with on-board map merging instead of off-board, the two vehicles were creating one map each and then aligning them together to make one unified map. This allows them to share information so that the two drones could differentiate where they've already searched and where they are in space at any given moment. This means they're no longer independent of each other but are integrated.

Before, when the LIDAR was scanning, it was making a 3D map. Now they're doing a 2D approximation and using that to align the two maps.

Other than the MIT students and Loc, there are a few others that had a huge hand in the effort. Chester Dolph has helped out a lot throughout the few years that they have been working on the project.

"It was a smashing success!" Chester said. "It was a really awesome project, and I like that it solved an interesting problem space. Getting all of these sensors to work together in real-time is very tricky, but the MIT folks developed a great code."

Pilots Brian Duvall and Zak Johns are also to thank, as well as Ralph Williams and Chris Meak.

Naturally, the group came together to take a photo at the end of the
research day.

This mission was one of five winners of the AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Award in May.

Friday, August 9, 2019

2019-08-09: Free Flyers: Autonomous Coordinated Operations

This team of interns are simulating small satellite free flyers for coordinated operations.  The achieved some major things this summer, and I was very happy to capture exactly what they've been working on!

Check it out above!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

2019-08-08: Sarah Woodham: Exit Presentation Summer 2019

Sarah Woodham, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, worked with HFACS (Human Factors Analysis and Classification System) this summer.

Watch her exit presentation to learn more!