A Glimpse into GRASP Research: Aerial Robotics

Featuring Dinesh Thakur

Video Version:


Micro Aerial Vehicle – Unmanned aerial vehicles generally fall into categories roughly based on their size:

Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) – An IMU is an electronic device that measures acceleration and angular velocity in order to calculate a robot’s pose.Sparkfun description of IMUs, accelerometers, and gyros (7-12)

Motion Capture – “Motion capture, or mo-cap, is a process of digital recording of people or objects’ movements.” Robots use motion capture systems to measure their pose in 3D space. – Teslasuit (HS)

AprilTag – When motion capture systems are unavailable (such as outdoors or in unknown locations), robots can use AprilTags to determine their pose. AprilTags are two dimensional bar codes, similar to QR codes. Robots use cameras to detect AprilTags, which have known locations in the world. By computing the precise 3D pose of the AprilTag relative to the camera, robots can determine their own pose in 3D space. – University of Michigan (HS)

Features – Instead of relying on AprilTags, robots can use the world around them to determine their pose. “A robot can use a camera to capture an image of the world. The image contains millions of pixels, but the value of each pixel is not particularly informative about what’s present in the scene. We need a more concise or ‘higher level’ way to represent the information, and this is what we refer to as image features.” – QUT Robot Academy (7-12)

NameGrade RangeResourcesDescription
Mountain Rescue3-5$3/groupStudents simulate a search and rescue operation
Mountain Rescue6-8$2/groupStudents simulate a search and rescue operation
Super Spinners7-9$1/groupStudents investigate inertia by designing spinners
Newton’s 1st Law lesson5-7$0Students learn about Newton’s 1st law
Relative Position7-9$1/groupStudents triangulate their position to simulate GPS navigation
Texas Instruments9-12CalculatorsExploration of circle equations using a TI calculator
Line equation activitiesVariesVariesCollection of activities regarding graphing lines
Curriculum Connections
Math (Common Core)Science (NGSS)
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.B.6Derive the equation y = mx for a line through the origin and the equation y = mx + b for a line intercepting the vertical axis at b.HS-ETS1-1, HS-ETS1-2, HS-ETS1-3Engineering Design
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSG.GPE.A.1Derive the equation of a circle of given center and radius using the Pythagorean Theorem; complete the square to find the center and radius of a circle given by an equationMS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3Engineering Design
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.7.AInterpret statements of inequality as statements about the relative position of two numbers on a number line diagram.MS-PS2-2Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
HS-PS2-1Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.