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Robotics Colloquium Series Presents: Dr. Daniel Montrallo Flickinger | Unique Challenges in VTOL Autonomy


Various images of robots at Robotics Engineering WPI alt
WPI Robotics Engineering
Friday, December 06, 2019
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 
Room 1002


Dr. Daniel Montrallo Flickinger 

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

Unique Challenges in VTOL Autonomy


Friday, December 6, 2019
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Gateway Park 60 Prescott St.| Rm. 1002

Abstract: Situated in a unique space between autonomous ground vehicles and fixed wing aircraft, VTOL aircraft present unique challenges in autonomy solutions.  This realm presents many challenges from operation with a complex and cluttered environment, similar to ground vehicles.  But they also benefit from high speeds within a structured environment, like other aircraft.  

Presented here is an overview of Sikorsky MATRIX technology, an autonomous flight control system which supports two, one, or zero pilot operation of air vehicles.  That is, optimally piloted.  One major stated goal of this system, in addition to flexibility in operations, is the complete elimination of an entire category of major accidents in aircraft: controlled flight into terrain.


Bio:  Dr. Flickinger currently researches perception with the autonomy group at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company.  Also, he is an adjunct professor for the RBE department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, teaching a course on the foundations of robotics.  Previously, he researched multibody system dynamics, contact modeling, and simulation as a postdoctoral researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  This position included involvement in the DARPA Robotics Challenge with Team Trooper, which was a joint effort between Lockheed Martin, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  

With a background in multibody system dynamics, specifically contact and impact mechanics, his PhD research at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Arlington was in contact mechanics, and its relation to the agility of legged robots.  He received bachelors and masters degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, with focuses in mobile robot trajectory planning and coordination, and teleoperation.  Research there supported Mobile Emulab, a wireless sensor networking research platform from the Flux Research Group.

Originally from Chatsworth, California, Dr. Flickinger was interested in computer programming and robotics from an early age.  He currently lives in Woodbridge, Connecticut, and when not in the lab, can be found either under the hood of an old truck, or outside shredding a local trail or fighting for third place at a mountain bike race.

Kristen Bronger, RBE Administrative Assistant