Matt Roush of the Engineering Society of Detroit visited NAS Lab as part of his Tech Tour:
Mahmoudian’s Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Laboratory was established in 2011, when she got to Michigan Tech. It’s researching the use of robots for novel applications, such as restoring power to areas devastated by natural disasters. “We’re seeking solutions for the effective use of robots in complex environments like disaster relief, where it’s not easy to predict what’s going to happen,” she said. “We’re developing robots and software to bring down costs, increase endurance and increase efficiency.”
Included are unique underwater gliders that don’t have propellers. Instead, they’re propelled by water — tiny battery-power motors pull water in and push it out, and the “wings” on the glider make it rise and fall as it’s pushed through the water. The lab has received funds from the Office of Naval Research to develop a fleet of the underwater gliders for a variety of applications.
And it’s working on a fleet of land-based robots to help deploy a microgrid for cell towers or a field hospital after a disaster. Mahmoudian is also involved in Michigan Tech’s summer programs for middle school and high school students, who build simple gliders and test them in the lab.