Computing That Serves

Challenges in Autonomous Flight


Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 11:00am


Sebastian Scherer


Randy Beard

Colloquium presented by Sebastian Scherer, Systems Scientist at Carnegie Mellon University
Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 11:00 A.M.
Location: 1170 TMCB

Autonomy holds a great promise by improving the applications, safety, and efficiency of flight. If little operator input is necessary, unmanned rotorcraft have a wide range of applications ranging from cargo delivery to inspec- tion. While great capabilities have been shown there exists a gap between nominal flight and reaching levels that can replace a pilot. A capable autonomous rotorcraft will have to react quickly to previously unknown obstacles, land at unprepared sites, handle emergencies and fly with semantic information to enable long-term autonomy in cluttered environments. In this talk we present how pushing the performance and safety of these systems requires us to develop novel approaches in perception and motion planning. 


Sebastian Scherer is a Systems Scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on
enabling autonomy for unmanned rotorcraft to operate at low altitude in cluttered environments.
He and His team have shown the fastest and most tested obstacle avoidance on an Yamaha
RMax (2006), the first obstacle avoidance for micro aerial vehicles in natural environments
(2008), and the first (2010) and fastest (2014) automatic landing zone detection and landing on
a full-size helicopter. Dr. Scherer received his B.S. in Computer Science, M.S. and Ph.D. in
Robotics from CMU in 2004, 2007, and 2010. He is a Siebel scholar and a recipient of multiple
paper awards and nominations, including AIAA@Infotech 2010 and FSR 2013. His research
has been covered by the national and internal press including IEEE Spectrum, the New Scientist,
Wired, Financial Times, der Spiegel, and the WSJ. His work on self-landing helicopters has
received the Popular Science Best of What's New 2010 Award and in Fall 2016 he demonstrated
his inspection robots to President Obama.