Showing robots the way

A student developing software to help robots navigate has won the Faculty of Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research.

Engpostgrad awards inside

A mechatronics student developing software to help self-guiding robots navigate accurately has won the Faculty of Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research.

PhD candidate Mark Whitty, from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, won the 2010 award for his work on a system that enables autonomous robots to rapidly recalculate their route to overcome errors in mapping and scanning which would otherwise prevent accurate navigation.

The software breaks down large maps into small sections and detects any errors that have occurred due to scanning or mapping inaccuracies, then allows the robot to rapidly recalculate its path to eliminate the errors. It has particular advantages for multiple robots operating together.

"Imagine you are blindfolded and you are told to walk around in a square to come back to where you started - in many ways that's what an autonomous robot is like," Mark said.

"I'm aiming to improve the accuracy of that movement."

The category winners in the Engineering Dean's Awards are: Johnson Chung, from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering (GSBME); Cara Young, also from GSBME; and Nina Narodytska, from the School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Johnson won the Fundamental and Enabling Research category for his work on nanocomposite materials for use in drug delivery applications.

Cara won the Resources and Infrastructure for the Future category with her work on cell microencapsulation for new treatments of diseases such as diabetes.

Nina won the Digital Future category for her work in developing computer algorithms that allow non-experts to use powerful modern optimisation tools to solve scheduling and rostering problems.

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