Into the Lab: Computer Science and Software

David Jones, senior in software engineering, performs a hardware-in-the-loop simulation on XPlane software to test the autopilot function that equips UAVs

Saad Biaz, faculty member in computer science and software engineering, hosted Auburn’s 10th Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) on smart unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) this summer. An REU is an 8-10 week summer program funded by the National Science Foundation to introduce undergraduate students to research and encourage them to pursue graduate studies.

Auburn’s REU site on UAVs offers a diverse group of undergraduate students from universities across the country the opportunity to conduct research on the challenges of flying UAVs autonomously, safely and efficiently within a limited space. Biaz’s group designed collision avoidance algorithms that allow smart UAVs to alter their course and avoid conflict without requiring intervention from human operators. The team produced a software architecture that allows 32 UAVs to fly safely and autonomously within a 1km x 1km airspace.

“The number of applicants to Auburn’s REU program has been increasing each year, and this summer we received 174 applications with some from Princeton University, MIT and UC Berkeley,” says Biaz. “The average GPA of this year’s participants was 3.85. Twelve students were selected from Auburn, College of Saint Benedict, Drake University, Emory University, Olin College, Lehigh University, MIT, Monmouth College, Ohio Northern University and University of Puerto Rico in Humacao.”

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