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UC Graduate Student Selected for Multicopter Workshop in Germany

UC aerospace engineering graduate student and doctoral candidate, Chelsea Sabo, has been selected to participate in the International Graduate School on Mobile Communications at the Ilmenau University of Technology in Ilmenau, Germany. Out of 200 applicants from all over the world, Sabo is one of only eight to be welcomed to the workshop.

Date: 5/4/2012
By: Arthur Davies
Phone: (513) 556-9181

The International Graduate School on Mobile Communications at the Ilmenau University of Technology in Ilmenau, Germany has chosen a UC Aerospace Engineering graduate student and PhD candidate, Chelsea Sabo, to participate in a prestigious workshop on simulating and programming self-propelled, multi-rotor multicopters in ad-hoc networks. Sabo is one of only eight female college students selected to attend out of 200 applicants from all over the world. This acceptance is a UC first.
Sabo first became intrigued with the works of Stephen Hawking and his books while in high school. She realized most unanswered questions lie within the universe. Therefore, Sabo decided to dedicate her life to exploring, discovering and researching. Since mathematics and science had been her best subjects, she went on to pursue an engineering degree. Saboís thirst for investigating the universe using creativity, problem-solving and building things was quenched in UCís aerospace engineering program.

Sabo with award
Chelsea Sabo with her advisor, associate professor Kelly Cohen

Choosing UC was a no-brainer for Sabo. She knew the university had a great reputation for bringing in motivated and innovative professors, as well as providing them the resources they need to explore, grow and expand in their field. UCís great educational and world-class research opportunities were the foundation for her graduate career. Sabo adds, ďIf not for my advisor, Kelly Cohen PhD, I wouldnít be nearly as successful in my field.Ē In addition to her upcoming participation in the multicopter workshop, Sabo was the recipient of an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Graduate Award earlier this year.
At present, Saboís research focuses on distributing multiple unmanned aerial vehicles and reducing the effects communication constraints have on them. Communication constraints include restriction by line-of-sight, maximum communication ranges or a need for uninterrupted transmission. These restrictions present a practical challenge to those who use UAVís and usually result from the UAVís heavyweight hardware systems.
Current technology overlooks such communication constraints and requires an operator to distribute and pilot UAVís. Sabo is working to develop an autonomous algorithm that would reduce the heavy load on the operator, allowing them to make better decisions throughout missions. As UAVís are being utilized more frequently in both military and civilian operations, there is a dire need for Saboís ideal algorithm.
As technology advances, autonomous vehicles and robots are being used to perform tasks considered to be dirty and dangerous in military and civil operations. Operations like those in nuclear power plants, exploration of Mars, investigating behind enemy lines in battlefields, wild-fire surveillance, border patrolling and weather forecasting commonly use UAVís.
Sabo explains the growing need for her research, ďThe circumstances where UAVs are increasingly being used in supplying surveillance include search and rescue missions, forest-fire monitoring, traffic surveillance, agricultural applications, pipeline monitoring, border patrol, and military applications.  Because of the numerous applications of UAVs, their presence will continue to grow.  Effective and safe autonomous algorithms are necessary to ensure the continued integration of UAVs into shared air space."
"Therefore, as we move toward a world where much of our surveillance is being performed by small, lightweight, mobile sensors, limited communication ranges will always be a concern.  However, this restriction makes the allocation of individual UAVs for cooperative strategies a very difficult problem and has been the focus of my dissertation work.Ē
In her dissertation work, Sabo experiments with and compares two extreme cases. First, UAVís working completely independently to accomplish their tasks and then UAVís staying in constant contact with each other. She states, ďWeíre going from the assumption that no matter where the vehicles are they are able to communicate freely to the assumption that they can only communicate if they are close enough to each other (their communication ranges overlap).Ē Historically, UAVís have been shown to work together and share information, making them more efficient. Saboís research questions what information UAVís should share, how often they should share information, whether or not they are going to share information, when and where they are going to meet to do so, whether they should stay in constant contact with one another, and whether they they work better as a group or independently.
Presently, Sabo has resources allocated to experiment with algorithm validation this summer in UCís Cooperative Distributed Systems Lab. However, she hasnít yet had the opportunity for much hands-on, hardware experience. Sabo remarks, ďBeing accepted into the International Multicopter Girls Camp gives me the chance to bridge the gap between developing control algorithms in simulation to actually implementing them in real UAV hardware. This better prepares me to perform experimental testing and further understand the foundation on which this research is built. I believe the workshop will make my research all the more meaningful.Ē
The International Graduate School is funding the registration fee, accommodations and travel to Ilmenau for the eight undergraduate and graduate students. Each student's objective is to deploy a small UAV swarm, which is capable of creating a disaster relief network in the air and on the ground. This multicopter workshop opens numerous new doors for Saboís graduate research and for her future career.
Sabo enthusiastically prepares for a future in research, focusing on developing systems. As an Associate Member of the Intelligent Systems Technical Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, she has discovered an interest and plans to pursue work in Intelligent Systems.

Nobody is more proud of Sabo than her advisor, associate professor Cohen. He reflects, ďI firmly believe that in the past 5 years, I have known no other graduate student who has achieved as much as Ms. Chelsea Sabo in our program at the University of Cincinnati.Ē
Saboís outstanding achievements and promising research contribute to UCís reputation for excellence taking flight.