Danika Thiele , Centerspread Editor

Drones have made their way unto FSC.AirMox, Florida Southern’s drone research team, is exploring the plethora of possibilities associated with drone related technology.

A student initiative, the AirMox team was formed as the brainchild of  Assistant Professor of Computer Science David Mathias and various computer science majors. A fascination with small unmanned aircrafts soon blossomed into this program, which has advanced since its inception next year.

AirMox explore various areas of drone technology. Computer vision, drone automation, computer learning and 3D mapping are all fields studied within the emerging club.

“These genetic algorithms are based on Darwinian evolution and are the coolest thing since pitted olives,” AirMox spearhead David Mathias said.

The team also built a drone entirely from scratch.

“It’s not a kit,” Mathias said. “We sourced all of the parts and built it. We’re still working on some kinks in flight.”

Much of the AirMox research goes far beyond drones. Being studied are the technologies behind them; what makes them fly. Utilizing drones gives AirMox a tangible piece of evidence to support their research.

“My particular research is focused on computer vision,” junior computer science major Rick Chapman said. “Which is a major factor in the future of self-driving cars and many security systems…consider a security camera that could identify a person carrying a gun in a crowded room faster than any security guard could.”

The concept of computer vision is progressively being used in fields today. This technology allows and teaches machines to “see” for themselves and actually process what they see.

With his project, Chapman uses an on-board camera to detect objects and follow them. Currently, the team is working to fly through an obstacle course successfully.

“Everyone likes the satisfaction of seeing something they made or worked on actually physically do something,” Chapman said.

Several other projects are currently underway, including a large drone being made from scratch.

Vincent Ragusa, a junior computer science major, is working on a project utilizing genetic algorithms to calculate efficient routes in a path-finding project vital to a drone’s operation. Another project to integrate a computer board directly into a drone is also underway. This will allow the navigational processes to happen onboard the drone sans remote.

In the United States, drone use remains a controversial topic. As of now, non-commercial drone use is unregulated, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) keeps a close watch. With a currently pending FAA ruling, the long-term research of drones may be in jeopardy.