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Ask an Academic: Pedro Castillo
In this install ment of “ask an academic,” we sit down with Pedro Castillo, CNRS Researcher at Sorbonne Universites to discuss his work and research.
- What is your particular area of expertise?
Automatic control, particularly for robotic systems as aerial vehicles.
- How would you explain your current work to a stranger on a bus?
I try to help others making autonomous robots for different tasks, especially dangerous tasks where the human life can be in danger.
- Where do you carry out most of your work?
In the tests laboratory, where we validate our ideas.
- What first inspired you to study automatic control in robotic systems?
When I was young, robotic autonomous systems were being developed. They were big and only a few could buy them for how expensive they were. Robots were considered only in fiction science (films) and I asked myself, will it be too difficult to conceive one? What would happen if this kind of technology were available for all people, to help us with everyday tasks? And because of my engineering studies, I liked to open a system to know it and why not improve it.
- What’s the most exciting part of your job?
When we are tested experimentally for the first time the algorithms and the results are so good causing you shout ‘et voila’.
- What keeps you awake at night?
Negative persons that do not believe that some things are possible (conservative people) or they are afraid for new changes. They can stop scientific developments.
- What false preconceptions do people have about your job?
That our developments or researches realized are too basic and have no direct civil applications. Nothing could be further from the truth, our researches are thinking in helping people in dangerous tasks. We observe needed from firefighters, farmers, builders, art restorers and more to derive interesting ideas for improving or conceiving new algorithms.
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?
To perceive the enormous range of possibilities that exists to realize more things after having had good results. That sometimes, it is only a question of changing the perspective.
- What do you think will be the next big discovery or development in your field?
We are working to improve maneuverability, speed, robustness and precision in aerial drones, as well as they can cooperate between them to perform different tasks. Several collaborations are being developing with good researchers to create a network where we can exchange/share results, develop similar platforms, etc., then new big results are coming.
- How have you used books for your own professional research and how it influenced your work, research or thinking, or help you solve a problem in your field? What outcome did it lead to?
Books are always a good base to develop ideas. Personally, they help me to improve my research and motivate me to continue trying to learn more. A good or ‘bad’ book is always welcome; both could help us to change our perspective, to give ideas and to browse old or new knowledge. Similarly, discuss with other people (not necessary researchers) are also interesting and it could drive new ideas for improving results. Book can help us to solve a specific problem in our field, it can give us the methodology, tools and tips but books can also inspire us.
- Provides substantial information on nonlinear control approaches and their validation in flight tests
- Details in observer-delay schemes that can be applied in real-time
- Teaches how an IMU is built and how they can improve the performance of their system when applying observers or predictors
- Improves prototypes with tactics for proposed nonlinear schemes
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