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Daniel Drew, Ph.D. 2018

Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Prof. Pister

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Daniel received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2013. His past research includes electromagnetic railgun development, polymer-metal nanoparticle compounds for energy efficient mechanical switching, and melt blown polymer nanofibers for filtration applications. He began his MS/PhD program at UC Berkeley in Fall 2013 with a MEMS concentration. Current research interests include microrobotics, electrohydrodynamic thrusters, nanomechanical switches, and wireless mesh networks. He is currently supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Autonomous Flying Microrobots [BPN826]
Even as autonomous flying drones enter the mainstream, there has been no strong push for
miniaturization by industry. Among the state of the art academic research on pico air vehicles,
the majority has focused on biomimetic flight mechanisms (e.g. flapping wings). This project
looks to develop a new microfabricated transduction mechanism for flying microrobots with the
goal of opening up the application space beyond that allowed by the industry-standard
quadcoptor. The proposed mechanism, electrohydrodynamic (EHD) force, functions silently and
with no moving parts, directly converting ion current to induced air flow. Microfabricated
silicon electrodes are currently being used to create devices with thrust to weight ratios in
excess of 15. Microrobots with four individually addressable thrusters have been assembled that
mass about 10mg and measure less than 2cm on a side, with the capability of takeoff while
tethered to a power supply. Rudimentary attitude control has been shown by selective actuation
of two of the four thrusters. Current work is exploring methods to decrease the operating
voltage of the robot, improve fabrication and assembly repeatability, and add on-board sensing.
Ultimately, integration with a low power control and communications platform will yield a truly
autonomous flying microrobot powered by ion thrusters the ionocraft.

Current Active Projects:

     Last Updated: Thu 2017-Feb-02 12:16:03

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