This year's NCFRN field trials were organized in Kelowna, British Columbia. There were about 80 roboticists who participated in the field trials from different academic, industrial and government reseach labs. Our lab performed experiments with a terrestrial, an aerial, an underwater and a surface vehicle, covering all the environmental regions. My experiments were related to search algorithms for drifters using the surface vehicle, Kingfisher from Clearpath Robotics. A glimpse of this work was presented at the ICRA'15 workshop on Persistent Autonomy for Aquatic Robotics. More to come soon! During this trip, I was also interviewed by InfoTel news on the media day :) Click here to read the article. And in all this excitement, I forgot! We won a robotics startup competition: Ogopogo! Alhumdulillah, it was an eventful trip!
hErVolution is a non-profit organization promoting education and employment for girls and women in STEM fields. One of their initiatives is the #STEMSpark online segment which shares the success stories of women in STEM fields to spark interest of young girls in similar careers. It was an honour for me to have been interviewed for this segment. Dorothy Nixon, beautifully covered my full story in this article.
Since over 85 years, the McGill Scarlet Key Society has been promoting leadership within McGill community by annually recognizing the student leaders via it's prestigious Scarlet Key Awards. I was fortunate to receive this award by the McGill principal, Dr. Suzanne Frontier for my contributions to the McGill IEEE McNaughton Learning and 3D printing Center. Thanks to my colleague, who nominated and recommended me for this award.
The AAAI Winter Symposium was an exciting opportunity for me as it provided me a unique experience of interacting with the AI fellows. Thanks to the Robotics fellowship by AAAI and NCFRN for the competitive travel grants which allowed me to attend the conference and present my work at the Robotics Fellowship talks session. Here's a summary of my experience at the conference.
My project for this Barbados trip was a search and rendezvous mission at sea with Clearpath Robotics' surface vehicle, the Kingfisher. The goal of this project was to use a surface vehicle to search for a floating device with limited-range wireless communication capability. The autonomous surface vehicle was required to maintain a motion model of the floating device when in communication range and search for it when the floater goes out of range. The long-term goal of the project is to have the surface vehicle track multiple floaters and search for them when needed. More updates on this project will follow-up soon!
The Undergraduate Computer Science Research Symposium (UCORE) is an initiative by the School of Computer Science at McGill University. The goal of this symposium is to provide a platform to the CS undergraduate summer research interns at McGill to present their research work. This year the symposium was organized in a conference format with a formal review and selection process. I was fortunate to be selected as the program committee member, which gave me an opportunity to review and assess the projects. I must say that I was really impressed by the quality of work and presentations! The committee had a tough choice of selecting five teams that will participate in the Faculty of Science, Undergraduate Research Conference. To learn more about the projects that were presented at the symposium, please check this link.
This was my first Robotics Science and System conference in Berkeley, California. I presented a poster in Women in Robotics Workshop. My travel grant was generously supported by Bosch. It was a very well organized conference with quality research papers. As one of side perks, we got to visit Google, meet the self-driving team and I got a ride in their self-driving car! Thanks to the all the volunteers and organizers of the conference for such a great experience. And special thanks to my advisor for showing us the Stanford university campus.
International Conference for Robotics and Automation was organized in Hong Kong. I presented my work on "Multi-Agent Rendezvous on Street Networks" in the Planning session track. Thanks to all the audience who attended my talk and gave me their constructive feedback. You can read more about this work on the publications page.
The second round of NSERC Field Robotics trials were organized in Montreal with combined themes of air, water, land and human. The event was attended by around 100 Canadian researchers from 8 universities, 10 industrial partners and 4 government agencies. The experiments related to air theme were performed at McGill university's Mac Donald campus whereas the water and land themes were at a yatch club and Canadian Space Agency respectively. My experiment was part of the human theme where I studied how humans would plan a rendezvous on street networks under spatial temporal constraints. I was also involved in testing the underwater videoray.
The Computer and Robot Vision conference was in Montreal where I presented a joint work in collaboration with my colleagues. This paper addressed the tracking and search problem for floating sensors on sea surface. The talk was scheduled in the last session of the conference as the last talk and surprisingly had a big turn out of 65 attendees. Thanks to all the audience for attending the talk and hanging in their!
The Barbados sea trial in 2014 was very special for me as I received the opportunity to lead the team. We performed four major experiments including search and tracking for lost targets at sea, autonomous boundary following for coral reef monitoring, gait adaptation, surf entry and exit using our amphibious robot Aqua. My thesis related project was tracking and searching for drifting sensors on sea surface. After several hardware failures of the sensor pack, we managed to run successful experiments on the last day of the trial. Thanks to our amazing team of divers, programmers and supporters: Arnold, Juan, Florian and Sandeep!
The Grace Hopper conference is the largest meeting for women in computing. This year there were 4000+ women from different fields of computing ranging from high school students and university graduates to professors and industrial researchers. The talks covered the breadth of the field with technical presenations, industrial insights, PhD forums, panel discussions for start-ups, career fair and demos. It was a very inspiring experience to meet women from different walks of life with each individual having a unique story to share. In 2014, I discovered that I was on the cover page of the Grace Hopper "call for participation" page :) Check it out here.
I was one of the few who got a chance to attend the Google Scholars' Retreat for the second time. Alhumdulillah! The retreat was organized in New York city. And the special event this year was the "24 hours of good" hackathon where we used our programming skills to develop apps for various non-profit organizations who are helping women in technical fields. Our team made a conference app for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSP). The scholarship announcement can be found here.
The annual summer camp from school of computer science for high school students was organized for robotics and gaming stream this year. I lead the robotics camp where I got the opportunity to organize research lab tours, keynote talks, programming tutorials, lab sessions and final competition. I also presented a tutorial for programming BoeBot (small differential drive robots from Parallax). All the teams performed really well in the final competition of maze solving. Special thanks to all the volunteers for making this summer camp a huge success! You can find more details here.
The Google I/O conference is an annual gathering organized by Google to launch its latest and greatest software, products and technology. It is organized in San Francisco in the Mosconne centre. I saw some really cool tech gear ranging from NFC based conference tags to underwater scooters. Surprisingly there was a huge amount of robotics presences at the conference. Not sure why? If you are interested in learning more about their recent products, please refer to this document which I prepared as my conference summary for my lab mates.
Organized my first event for McGill IEEE Women in Engineering and Computer Science Society. It was a workshop to help female students address some of the issues faced by women in technical fields. The workshop included two keynote talks and a panel discussion with 4 speakers, all women :) It was a perfect blend of industry and academia experts. We received a great response from the audience and we concluded with some insightful ways of promoting women in technology. Some of the suggestions from the panel speakers were to promote engineering and sciences subjects at high school and initiate women-mentoring-a-women program.
I came back home to some good news at the end of a very successful week of field robotic demos. I received the response for my Google Anita Borg Scholarship Application :) And YAY!! I am a Google Scholar or as my advisor would say it "I am a Borg!" BIG thanks to my referees for their great recommendation letters and to Google for their generous scholarship and recognition. Felt really happy to see this link.
The NCFRN members including student members met for the first time in Toronto for technical demostrations and potential collaboration between univerties and with industry partners. The field demos were distributed between the York University campus and University of Toronto, Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). It was an amazing experience in the Mars dome (at UTAIS) which is an indoor simulated MARS environment. There is a ramp in the dome which is the most challenging terrain for the terrestrial robots and I am very happy to share that Aqua 1.0 was the only vehicle that made it to the top of the ramp. The other robots were from MDA and CSA which were bigger and more expensive than Aqua. Good job Aqua!! The highlight of the week was the open session at the end of the event where robots from all research groups were manually controlled to simultaneously explore the Mars dome. It felt as if a sci-fi movie was happening live. The AR-drones and Octo-copters were flying, Aqua, MDA's robot, Clearpath's huskies and CSA's Juno were marching on the Marsupial-like terrain. What an eventful end to an extraordinary week! Bravo to all the NCFRN members! For more details check out the website here.
Hurray!! I won the IEEE Canada Women in Engineering Award 2013 :) Alhumdulillah! Its been a great month for me. This award is based on academic excellence, leadership roles within and outside IEEE including contributions towards Women in Engineering within IEEE. The link to the announcement is here.
The best thing that ever happened to me :) I got engaged!! YAY!! No he is not a robot :p But a cool geeky fact, the date is a palindrome!! 31.3.13 :))
I passed my proposal exam!! I have been upgraded to the order of PhD candidate now :) My PhD committee comprises of Dr. Frank Ferrie and Dr. Derek Ruths. Each of them provided their expert advice on engineering and networking applications respectively
The NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network (NCFRN) was publically announced today. This is first and one of its kind Canada-wide network of field robotists from both academia and industry. There are 11 universities and 14 industrial partners involved in this network. My advisor is the principal investigator for the network. This will provide us a great opportunity to share resources and also contribute towards the growth of robotics in Canada. Feel really proud to be a part of it. The network announcement was widely covered by the media. Here's a clip annotated by my advisor as an acknowledgement to all MRL members.
Its been my longstanding wish to create a local Robotics and Automation community in Montreal. My association with IEEE provided me the resources to materialize this. The Chair of IEEE Montreal Section, helped me gather petitions from the local IEEE Robotics and Automation Society members to formulate a Chapter in 2011. This chapter was kick-started with MERG (McGill Electronics and Robotics Group) and a technical talk series. The first two keynote talks were given by Dr. Gregory Dudek (former IEEE RAS Distinguished Lecturer) and Dr. Farhad Aghili (Canadian Space Agency). Looking forward to expand the activities of this chapter for the upcoming year.
As my role of IEEE Montreal Section Student Representative, I collaboratively organized the IEEEXtreme programming competition with three universities (McGill, Concordia and ETS). The ETS student branch were the master planner for the event. We managed to arrange for the funding to give away Google Nexus Tablets to the winning team in Montreal. The winning team in Montreal was from McGill and the team members from this team are also my colleagues at the Mobile Robotics Lab :) Great work!! McGill had 5 teams in top 8 teams in Canada for this global competition.
Presented my first international publication at IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Portugal. We had two papers from the lab and our underwater robot (Aqua) was on demo. The robot exhibit was great with clearpath showcasing its latest surface vehicle (Kingfisher) along with many other cool toys. Check out the pictures here: here. As the IEEE Montreal Robotics and Automation Society Chapter Chair, I also presented our first bid for ICRA 2018 in Montreal. This bid was push back by one year due to IEEE region rotations for its conferences. The bid was revised in 2015 for proposal of ICRA 2019 in Montreal and was eventually won by advisor Prof. Gregory Dudek. I am so excited for this! Cheers to tourism Montreal for their support!