Adam Yabroudi, 2015, Electrical Engineering

The retrieval of dendrometric measurements in forests can be time-consuming and imprecise. Autonomous micro-aerial vehicles, like quadcopters, have the ability to gather data much faster and more accurately than humans. One measurement of significance in forest ecology is diameter at breast height (DBH). This measurement is generally taken 1.3-1.4 meters off the ground. To obtain such a measurement autonomously the micro-aerial must not only isolate and track the tree trunks in a forest using computer vision but it must also compute the ground plane to precisely measure DBH. Over the summer at JPL-NASA, my role was focused on creating and testing the computer vision algorithms to isolate the ground plane in cluttered environments. I was also involved in development of the tree detection algorithms. After these were paired with other student work in the project, we were able to map the forests for further scientific studies. This internship influenced me personally by showing me a whole new field where robotic and technological solutions could provide value. It also allowed me to get a sense of how research is conducted in a non-university setting.