N. Dakota, Minnesota students to create drone

Published 7:40 am Monday, May 8, 2017

NORTHFIELD — Teams of students from two colleges in Minnesota and one university in North Dakota are building drones in preparation for an international robotics competition.

Students from Carleton and St. Olaf colleges and North Dakota State University are set to compete at the International Aerial Robotics event in Atlanta this July, the Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2qs1VCX) reported.

The contest challenges competitors to build drones that can avoid obstacles and make decisions on its own. The drone can’t rely on external guidance systems like GPS or remote control, so the projects will use cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar to know where it is.

Email newsletter signup

During the competition, drones will have to maneuver inside a large auditorium where they will need to sense robots moving randomly across the floor.

“It can go to these robots and like tap them and then be able to control them and force them to go into the desired path,” North Dakota State team member Brady Goenner said. “That’s part of the competition, so being able to kind of go to these robots and control them and kind of herd them into the direction we want them.”

NDSU drone team adviser Jeremy Straub said the students will struggle to solve some real-world problems and create a drone that can adapt to a constantly changing environment.

“Anything from going into a disaster area after something bad has happened, or logistics applications where your Amazon delivery drone needs to be able to operate even if you know all of the remote things are no longer able to service it,” he said.

Straub said no matter how his team fares in the competition, they’re likely to score high with future employers.