At his lab at the University of Pennsylvania, Vijay Kumar and his team have created autonomous aerial robots inspired by honeybees. Their latest breakthrough: Precision Farming, in which swarms of robots map, reconstruct and analyze every plant and piece of fruit in an orchard, providing vital information to farmers that can help improve yields and make water management smarter.
As the dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Vijay Kumar studies the control and coordination of multi-robot formations.
Why you should listen
At the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, flying quadrotor robots move together in eerie formation, tightening themselves into perfect battalions, even filling in the gap when one of their own drops out. You might have seen viral videos of the quads zipping around the netting-draped GRASP Lab (they juggle! they fly through a hula hoop!). Vijay Kumar headed this lab from 1998-2004. He’s now the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he continues his work in robotics, blending computer science and mechanical engineering to create the next generation of robotic wonders.