Dr. C. “Nat” Nataraj, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, served as the featured speaker for the University Science Center’s May “Lunch for Hungry Minds” event, part of a monthly series that highlights excellence in regional academic research sponsored by Philadelphia’s University City Keystone Innovation Zone.
A nationally renowned expert on the physics of devices, Dr. Nataraj presented “Dynamics and Control of Unmanned Systems” to more than 50 members of the Philadelphia regional academic and business communities.
“It remains important for scientists of all disciplines to meet and discuss their latest developments in academic forums, like the University Science Center. Understanding avant-garde research in one area can peak curiosity in another, and ultimately lead to a breakthrough development or invention,” says Dr. Nataraj. “When members of the scientific community come together to share their unique viewpoints and expertise, we are able to find multidisciplinary solutions to problems and gain a new perspective. The many aspects of science build on one another, and this process of evolution continues to contribute to the advancements achieved within my own research on unmanned systems.”
Dr. Nataraj hosted a lively discussion with the audience, who had many questions after his presentation on the cutting-edge applications of unmanned systems in the scientific world. The topic was based on his current research developing an algorithm that makes unmanned surface vehicles operate more autonomously on the water. These vehicles, which vary in degree of capabilities, can “learn” how to take simple commands and operate on their own, making decisions and adapting to their environment. This advancement in technology helps to account for the dynamic real world, as robotic systems begin to be integrated into all types of daily operations.
Several of Dr. Nataraj’s graduate students, postdoctoral assistants, and Dr. Calvin Li, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, also attended the event.