Postdoctoral Scholar Sanket Receives Drones Ph.D. Thesis Award

Jan 10, 2022

Nitin J. Sanket, a postdoctoral scholar in the Perception and Robotics Group, was recently honored with the Drones 2021 Ph.D. Thesis Award for his research involving autonomous aerial vehicles.

The annual award recognizes a doctoral thesis that shows great potential and aligns with the scientific mission of Drones, an international open-access journal focused on the design and application of unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems and remotely piloted aircraft systems.

Sanket’s thesis, “Active Vision Based Embodied-AI Design for Nano-UAV Autonomy,” introduces concepts used to develop a novel framework for algorithmic sensorimotor design of multirotor vehicles. Specifically, it focuses on a bio-inspired algorithmic framework for size, weight, area and power constrained nano-quadrotors.

The paper also introduces a self-navigating aerial drone designed to pollinate flowers on a farm. The drone “hive” houses several miniature drones and then releases them to pollinate flowers and crops—just like bees.

His work was featured in a 2021 video clip by Voice of America.

“In my view, Nitin’s thesis is among the best to have come out of my lab in the last 15 years,” says Yiannis Aloimonos, a professor of computer science with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

Aloimonos was Sanket’s doctoral adviser at Maryland, and the two continue to collaborate on projects involving computer vision and autonomous robotics.

In addition to his postdoctoral research, Sanket is an assistant clinical professor in the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) Autonomous Unmanned Systems.