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U.S. Department of Defense calls on UTSA students to support troops

Engineering students develop specialized technology to aid search and rescue missions.

SAN ANTONIO — Drone technology, unmanned robotic rovers, and specialized software co-developed by student engineers took over the Frost Plaza at the University of Texas at San Antonio Wednesday afternoon. 

The UTSA Autonomous Control Engineering Laboratory was tasked by the U.S. Department of Defense to aid in the development of technology that can perform specific military operations including reconnaissance and search and rescue missions.

The plastic, play-sized prototypes from the formation of Wednesday's live demo represented the iron fleet that could serve on the front lines for our troops. 

Professor Mo Jamshidi explained the intricacies of the battle bots saying, “Basically, command smaller robots to move to a desired location and make some investigations on what’s going on, for example, looking for a place, looking for a mine, or looking for a fire starting or any kind of disaster happening can be handled by what we call a swarm of robots.”

The drones and rovers are programmed to detect specific subjects in the field and communicate their findings to home base before troops even arrive.

“Certainly, we are protecting many many lives,” said Dr. Abdollah Homaifar, Duke Energy Eminent Professor of Computer Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. 

He suggested that this technology can potentially serve as a solution to anything from natural disasters to bad traffic. “Autonomy is becoming a part of everyday life.”

Professor Jamshidi explained the versatility of the tech and told KENS 5 the students have access to the lab’s 3D printer where most of their products are designed and constructed. Already, engineering students have developed high-tech walking support equipment for the elderly and the blind.

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