RI and RISS Alumni Launch RISS Drone Workshop with DJI
RISS is a transformative experience that builds long-lasting bonds. CMU RISS alumni make important contributions as mentors, sponsors, and external partners of the program. This summer, CMU RI alumni Sankalp Arora (CMU RISS ‘10, RI ‘15) and Geetesh Dubey (RI ‘17) partnered with the RISS program to design a hands-on robotics workshops for the summer scholars with Da-Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Company (DJI) (http://www.dji.com).
Sankalp Arora giving a background talk on aerial robotics and explaining the drone challenge.
RISS alum Sankalp Arora, a co-founder of Nabla Ascent, designed and launched the drone workshop with his team and DJI director Zhiyuan Li to provide RISS cohorts with a remarkable experience in programing and working with unmanned aerial vehicles. Sankalp explained that through the workshop “RI Summer Scholars got a great learning opportunity to work developing an autonomous robotic system that can solve real-world problems. We were stoked to be able to contribute our expertise towards providing this experience for the students.”
It was Sankalp’s own experience as a summer scholar that opened additional doors for research and education in robotics at Carnegie Mellon, where he is now completing his PhD. The aerial robotics research and working partnerships forged while at CMU RI laid the foundation for his start-up company, Nabla Ascent co-founded with Geetesh Dubey, Daniel Maturana, and Robb Myer. The company develops drone autonomy solutions for high-value commercial and defense applications, with a focus on operating safely around humans in environments without GPS. The Nabla Ascent team has helped develop the safety and planning algorithms of first full-scale autonomous helicopter, on-board semantic exploration through UAVs, successful autonomous MAV flights inside a ship, volumetric point-cloud classification using CNNs, lighting-invariant shipdeck tracking algorithms, among other breakthroughs during their graduate studies at RI CMU. Nabla Ascent is now spinning out of CMU with three provisional patents and a team with proven capabilities to bring these technologies to market.
Geetesh Dubey, with Nabla Ascent cofounders Daniel Maturana and Sankalp Arora, explains the programming components of the drone challenge.
Like other RISS alumni, Sankalp’s path in robotics was shaped by the experiences and connections he made at RISS. RISS brings together the top scientists in the field of robotics and a diverse group of young scholars to create a one-of-a-kind learning environment in the world’s largest university-affiliated robotics research institute. We thank Sankalp, Geetesh, and Nabla Ascent for opening doors and inspiring the future leaders in robotics.
To learn about Nabla Ascent, visit http://bit.ly/2vCzGnD and contact Sankalp Arora at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Terence Ting and Rachel Burcin
Photo copyright CMU 2017.
Photos by Xiaohuan Wang, Terence Ting, and Dat Nguyen