3d modeling

A UWF professor and a doctoral student develop 3D modeling with a small team of drones to help rescuers

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — In an effort to help emergency response teams, a University of West Florida professor and doctoral student in intellectual systems and robotics have developed a framework for 3D modeling using a team of small drones.

Last year, Dr. Hakki Erhan Sevil, Assistant Professor of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, and Ph.D. student Shane Smith, received a US Air Force Small Business Technology Transfer Fellowship for having developed a new method of swarm navigation. Their research aims to help response teams in emergency situations, such as wildfires, disaster relief efforts, and search and rescue missions.

“In an emergency situation, such as a forest fire, disaster relief operation or search and rescue mission, quickly identifying details of the environment or potential hazards is paramount,” said said Seville. “Our framework can not only save crucial time in situational awareness, but also provide that awareness to first responders without adding to their cognitive load.”

Swarm navigation methods are inspired by nature which provides good solutions to manage groups, such as schools of fish, swarms of ants and swarms of bees. In an emergency, responders have a limited amount of time to plan their best response. A team of drones could be deployed to navigate the area, quickly create a 3D model and provide it to the emergency response team, so they can plan the best possible rescue operation.

Excluding preliminary studies, the process of developing the swarm navigation and 3D modeling framework took nearly two years for the student and the teacher.

“Conducting research takes time and a lot of effort, and it takes perseverance and dedication,” Sevil said. “We have brilliant PhD, MSc and BSc students in our research group, with different backgrounds and levels of experience. They have an endless desire for knowledge – curious and driven to solve difficult problems. And we’ve all learned that while working on research is difficult, it can be rewarding because it allows you to develop innovative new methods for important, perhaps life-saving topics, and to learn new things.

Their research, titled “Design of a Rapid Structure from Motion (SfM) Based 3D Reconstruction Framework Using a Team of Autonomous Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS)”, was published in Journal of Robotics. The team’s next goal is to test their framework in a scale model and small-scale environment using small-scale drones in the real world.

For more information on UWF’s Intelligent Systems and Robotics program, click here.

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