Robotic Systems Laboratory

Specializing in the design, control, and teleoperation of highly capable robotic systems for scientific discovery, technology validation, and engineering education


Photo of the Month
The RSL UAV team uses one of the Lab's octocopters to map Aver Family Winery in Gilroy, CA.

New Publication on Multi-Robot Adaptive Navigation: Thomas Adamek is the lead author on a new article on multi-robot gradient-based adaptive navigation, which has been accepted for publication in the ASME/IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics.

New Publication on RSL's Underwater Multi-Robot Testbed:  Dr. Kitts presented a conference paper on RSL's new underwater multi-robot testbed at the IEEE AUV 2014 conference in Oxford Mississippi in October.  The paper describes the testbed and initial results in successfully demonstrating multi-robot underwater formation control.  Paper co-authors included Thomas Adamek, Mike Vlahos, Anne Mahacek, Killian Poore, Jorge Guerra, Michael Neumann, Matthew Chin, and Mike Rasay.

Courses Planned for 
Winter 2015
ENGR / MECH 371 Space System Design & Engineering I
ENGR 379 Satellite Operations


New Mobile Mission Control Station for Satellite and UAV Field Operations
RSL has just rolled out its new mobile command and control station.  This is a 28 ft trailer (pulled by a diesel pickup truck) that houses a set of control workstations, racks of communications equipment, and a number of radio antenna, to include a 2.4 meter deployable parabolic dish for communicating with NASA spacecraft.  Funded by an internal SCU grant and now "wrapped" with a space-themed design, the station has already been featured at the NASA Ames 75 year anniversary Open House (which had more than 120,000 people) as well as at SCU's own Grand Reunion Weekend.  Work on the station continues in order to get all of its radio communications equipment installed.  RSL hopes to have the station fully operational in early 2015 so that it is ready to support the next round of NASA small satellite launches - RSL will be controlling these satellites as it has been doing over the past decade.
[Courtesy Chuck Barry, Santa Clara University]
UAV Systems and Applications Taking Off
[Courtesy Mike Rasay, Robotic Systems Laboratory]
RSL is ramping up its efforts with Unmanned Aerial Systems, having acquired a variety of new octocopter and fixed wing platforms and initiating a number of new activities to provide drone-based services to local partners and collaborators.  Payloads for these vehicles include a high resolution visible camera (for aerial mapping), a near-IR camera (for vegetation monitoring), and a FLIR IR camera (for thermal monitoring); through a new partnership with Intel, the Lab has also acquired a multispectral imager for enhanced vegetation monitoring. 
 Applications that are now being prototyped include aerial mapping (to include recent work done in Lake Tahoe for conservation biologists), solar panel inspection and vegetation monitoring (for SCU's own facilities department), and vegetation and irrigation monitoring for local wineries.  
The Lab also has developed the ability to use drone-based imagery in order to create photorealistic three-dimensional models of large scale objects, like building (SCU's solar house), and landforms (like Fannette Island, the island in the middle of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe).
RSL is leading a new university group focused on UAV education, services and research.  Member institutions include Bucknell Univ, Ohiio Northern Univ, St. Louis Univ, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Union College, and Mercer University.  These schools kicked off their collaboration at a Spring 2014 workshop hosted by SCU and are now jointly developing curricula and project-based opportunities for students to engage in both real world engineering and real world entrepreneurial enterprise operations.  This activity is being conducted through the auspices of the KEEN network, a foundation- sponsored program focused on instilling the entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineers.
Fall Underwater Robotics Deployment
RSL staff member Thomas Adamek and graduate students Michael Neumann and Jasmine Cashbaugh led a number of students in an underwater robotics deployment in Monterey Bay in mid-October as part of the ENGR 180 Marine Operations course.  Students learned how to deploy and pilot the Triton tethered underwater robot.  Guests included Fr. John Rose Santiago and program mentor Lloyd Droppers.
Thanks to AGI for their support of our program!
Underwater 3-D Imaging
RSL has been using photogrammetric techniques to create high-resolution 3-dimensional underwater images, such as the one produced for this sunken rowboat found in Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe in September 2014.
[Courtesy: RSL Marine Robotics Team and 3-D Photogrammetry Team]