By Joanna Carver/Public Affairs Specialist
Drones don’t have the best reputation these days. That’s one of the reasons UTSA computer engineering senior Patrick Stockton decided to establish Texas’s only team in the International Aerial Robotics Competition.
“Since UTSA is one of the leading drone research facilities in Texas, we have the resources to go for it, and students who are inspired to put their all into it,” Stockton said.
He formed the team with fourteen other UTSA students, all fellow engineering majors.
“We got together and decided it was something we wanted to do,” he said. “It’s not just fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to open up new opportunities for students and research.”
The competition is 25 years old and challenges college students across the United States to use aerial robotic devices to solve a specific problem. The task currently in front of Stockton and his team is to lead a herd of ground robots through a series of obstacles.
“In the real world, you could apply that kind of challenge to search and rescue,” he said. “The drone could help direct people toward a shelter, or lead emergency responders toward survivors.”
Stockton hopes that soon drones will have a more positive connotation. For example, he says they could be used to show how far forest fires have spread or where in the blaze there are people in need of rescue.
“We want to make drones something that helps humanity,” he said.
The UTSA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is supporting the team to acquire parts to allow the team to begin building its drone and readying themselves for the competition, which takes place next summer. Stockton noted that the challenge he and his team are tackling this year is the same as last year’s, because no one was able to complete it.
“We’re going to solve it,” he said.
Learn more about electrical and computer engineering at UTSA.