Carine Abi Akar is an undergraduate in 6-3 and a UROP in the Humans and Automation Lab working under CSAIL Professor Missy Cummings.
Q. Can you describe your experiences in the EECS Department particularly as a UROP and how your exposure to both electrical engineering and computer science have been integral to this work?
Carine Abi-Akar: “Since September 2009, I have been a part of the MIT Humans and Automation Lab. My involvement has been contributing on the Micro Aerial Vehicle Visualization of Unexplored Environments (MAV-VUE) project. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Aerospace Controls Lab at MIT. The director of the lab is Professor Mary L. Cummings and my direct graduate supervisor was David Pitman, who completed both his S.B. (’06) and M.Eng. (’10) in 6-3 at MIT. The project involved creating a quad-rotor, the MAV, with the capacity of following the instructions a user would send to it via a simple handheld device, specifically the iPod, over an established network. The quad-rotor in return provided the user situational awareness of the unexplored environment by providing a video stream of its current location. The iPod allows the user to send waypoints to the MAV, change it’s altitude and orientation, and send special commands for small increments of movement based on the angle of iPod relative to the ground.
My contribution to the project has been in several different areas. At first, my role was to create the protocols for the experiment. It was important to create documentation for a step-by-step method of completing each experiment. Our experiment was extremely complex in nature and each role in the experiment required several pages of guidelines. Setting up the experiment environment was the next task. This involved creating an environment that the user would be able to discover without pushing the boundaries of the MAV. Objects of Interest (OOIs) and People of Interest (POIs) were also created so as to test the viewing capacity the MAV would allow the user to result in from the video stream of the environment. After months of testing, recording and finally analyzing data, my role over IAP was to modify the interface the testing operator would use during the experiment. This interface was the front end of a server that could override the commands a user could have sent. This work continued over into the Spring where I modified the interface for the iPod, making it more user friendly and in certain areas, more efficient. Also, I did some preparation work for the experiments that were to be conducted at a further point in time.”
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