Mourikis Aims to Increase the Abilities of Small Flying Robots

Anastasios Mourikis, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, has won the National Science Foundation CAREER award, which comes with a $487,204 grant over five years.

His research focuses on micro aerial vehicles (MAVs), which are being adopted for a number of applications in national security, search-and-rescue operations, and scientific exploration. These small, inexpensive platforms are equipped with sensing, processing, and communication capabilities, which allow them to find and relay information from difficult-to-reach locations.

Groups of MAV’s can track people in a disaster site, model distributions of chemicals in the air, or build a map of the environment, all in real time, which can be useful for planning and high-level decision-making.

Even with state-of-the-art batteries, MAVs’ flight time is limited today. To maintain low weight and power consumption, MAVs are typically equipped with less capable processors and communication devices, and are limited in the types of sensors they can carry.  Mouikis’ work aims to increase the capabilities of MAVs.

“I hope to create opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students from UCR’s diverse student body,” Mourikis said. He hopes to leverage the nature of the research – flying robots capture the imagination of young minds – to inspire and recruit underrepresented minority students to science and engineering.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers support to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

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