Fall 2020The Idea
Stuck behind the common CATA bus traffic of Michigan State University's campus, Yuchen Wang, an electrical engineering undergraduate, had thought up an idea that utilized the empty space on top of a CATA bus. What if drones could use the empty space? He brought the idea to Dr. Woongkul Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering on campus, who supported Wang and guided him toward NASA's University Student Research Challenge (USRC) program.
Winter 2020The USRC Program
Yuchen Wang would quickly form a small team of undergraduate students, including Hunter Carmack, Kindred Griffis, Luke Lewallen, Scott Newhard, Caroline Nicholas, Shukai Wang, and Kyle White. With mentoring from Dr. Woongkul Lee, the team would further research the possibility of drones utilizing public transit, and polish the drone idea leading to the their application within the USRC program as the Aerial Intra-city Delivery Electric Drone (AIDED) project.
Spring 2021USRC Grant Recipient
In April of 2021, the small team of undergraduates would receive news that AIDED was selected to be the recipient of an $80,000 grant with an initial development timeline of one year. The small team of engineers were excited, and part selection for a prototype began immediately.
With parts selected, the team began engineering a first generation prototype drone under the call sign SQUAB-1. Along with the drone's unique latching and charging platform and a proprietary flight planning algorithm, the team was making large steps toward bringing Yuchen Wang's idea to life.
By the end of the spring 2022 semester, SQUAB-1 development has been finished, complete with integrated sensors, autonomous flight, and precision landing and latching. With a fully functional prototype, the team began development of a full scale, heavy payload drone under the call sign HERMES.
Fall 2022HERMES Pouch and the ATLAS-BEACON System
By the end of the fall 2022 semester, HERMES' proportional-integral-derivitive (PID) tuning had been completed, and its twenty pound payload capability has been verified. Flight planning simulations have been completed, along with the latching and charging system's circuitry.
Present DayContinued Development and Research
With the drone near completion, its unique latching and charging system continues to be something the team works to perfect. The software team continues to research and improve upon the drone's pathfinding algorithm, which will eventually be compiled and publicized into a research paper.
The FutureFinal Demonstration
By the end of the spring 2023 semester, the AIDED team plans to complete a full scale live demonstration of HERMES and its autonomous flight and payload capabilities utilizing the Michigan State University autonomous CATA bus.