Penn State becomes core member of new NSF center on autonomous air mobility

October 4, 2022

Editor’s note: The original article was published on University of Colorado Boulder’s website.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has joined the new National Science Foundation Center for Autonomous Air Mobility and Sensing (CAAMS) as a founding core member. CAAMS is housed in the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at Colorado University Boulder (CU Boulder). It is organized under the NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers program (IUCRC). 

IUCRCs are typically initially funded for five years and facilitate a multi-university and industry partnership to integrate research from traditional disciplines with emerging fields to provide translational work with near-immediate application. CAAMS will specifically focus on applying research from automatic control, aerodynamics, wireless communication and energy storage to such areas as artificial intelligence, autonomy, machine learning and robotics. 

Eric Frew, professor of aerospace engineering sciences at CU Boulder, will serve as the center’s director. Jack Langelaan, professor of aerospace engineering at Penn State, will serve as the Penn State site director. Other partners in the IUCRC include Brigham Young University, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech. 

“Aviation is moving towards advanced air mobility systems such as aerial package delivery and air travel within urban centers and metropolitan areas,” Langelaan said. “This requires advances in autonomy, sensing systems, flight vehicle design, propulsion systems, as well as infrastructure. The payoff of making this work can be tremendous: it will enable easier, faster mobility of both people and goods.”

The IUCRC framework is designed to help startups, large corporate partners and government agencies connect directly with university faculty and student researchers to solve common pre-competitive challenges in a low-risk environment. The aim is to develop new technology, leverage resources and build out the U.S. workforce in critical areas through graduate student-led research projects.

Representatives from each university partner and industry partners attended the first planning meeting at CU Boulder on Aug. 11. In addition to Langelaan, other Penn State participants included Amy Pritchett, head of the Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering; Daning Huang, assistant professor of aerospace engineering; and Junyi Geng, assistant professor of aerospace engineering.


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"The payoff of making this work can be tremendous: it will enable easier, faster mobility of both people and goods.” — Jack Langelaan