MTSU Strengthens its Robotic Partnership

In collaboration with the military, Middle Tennessee State University will investigate the means to enhance the potential application of technology related to unmanned aerial and ground vehicles.

The recent educational collaboration between the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps and MTSU will discover the ways to augment the existing small robots with affordable hardware and software that promotes Raven unmanned aircraft to be deployed as an eye-in-the-sky relay, thereby ensuring the synchronous operation of land robots with unmanned vehicles in the air.

Robotic and unmanned aerial systems-based research at the MTSU Farm in Lascassas promises potential opportunities to the partnership. With the help of this agreement, the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office can loan and transfer research equipment to MTSU. Furthermore, the development of courses and materials at MTSU will be supported by Army and Marines. Also, the partnership allows university’s faculty and students to take part in defense laboratory research projects.

Army’s Lt. Col. Nick Kioutas and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee entered a formal agreement recently at the Murfreesboro campus. Here, a demonstration was conducted by four students using the iRobot PackBot 500 system, a military Raven unmanned vehicle, and other unmanned vehicles. This follows the partnership between University and Army for integrating MTSU’s educational and research initiatives within the Army’s remote-controlled Raven aircraft.

Underlying potentials of the project, pending FAA approval, unmanned ground vehicles and aircraft promises agricultural applications such as observing a herd of cattle and tracking vital signs from RF transmitters installed on the cattle; camera-based inspection of an irrigation pump; selective elimination of invasive weeds from a high-value crop like vineyards; and applying an unmanned spraying system for fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides.

The recent partnership agreement also led to a demonstration by MTSU senior Steve Lawn that involved maneuvering of robot.

Another robot-maneuvering expertise was demonstrated by Bornhoft and Alex McCloud. Lt. Col. Robb Walker hosted the Army’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems program.