Former Graduate Student Nitin Sanket Receives the Drones 2021 PhD Thesis Award

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Graduate student Nitin Sanket was recently announced as the winner of the Drones 2021 PhD Thesis Award. The award  is intended to be granted to a Ph.D. student who has produced a highly anticipated academic thesis that shows great potential.

Sanket’s dissertation, “Active Vision Based Embodied-AI Design for Nano-UAV Autonomy,” introduces concepts used to develop a novel framework for algorithmic sensorimotor design of multirotor vehicles. Sanket’s research focuses on four methods that achieve activeness on an aerial robot.  

 “I am honored to receive the award and excited to see all the doors a parsimonious algorithmic design philosophy will open for mobile robots,” said Sanket.  “In particular, how easily this method can be adapted for a variety of  applications ranging from flower pollination, searching for survivors in a disaster scenario to inspecting bridges.”  

Drones is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal published monthly online by MDPI. The journal focuses on design and applications of drones, including unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), etc. 

“Sanket’s research work has created a new area of research called minimalist cognition. It provides the fundamentals for a compositional, progressive and  systematic design of autonomous intelligent systems,” said Prof. Yiannis Aloimonos, Sanket’s Ph.D. thesis Advisor.  His thesis introduces the RoboBeeHive, a self-navigating aerial drone designed to pollinate flowers on a farm. The drone “hive” houses several much smaller drones and then releases them to pollinate flowers and crops—just like bees. His cutting edge research will enable abilities in robots on a scale never seen before. 

Sanket was also the recipient of the  2021 Larry S. Davis Doctoral Dissertation Award.

He is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Perception and Robotics Group (PRG) and an assistant clinical professor in the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) Autonomous Unmanned Systems.

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