Published: May 10, 2022 By

Eric Frew and Nisar Ahmed Professors Eric Frew (left) and Nisar Ahmed (right)

A major research center on autonomous air mobility and sensing has been founded at CU Boulder, in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

The Center for Autonomous Air Mobility and Sensing (CAAMS) will be housed in the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences and is organized under the NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers program (IUCRC). The five-year, multi-university and industry partnership will integrate research from traditional engineering topics such as automatic control, aerodynamics, wireless communication and energy storage with new disciplines such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, machine learning and robotics.

Professor Eric Frew will serve as the center’s director, with Associate Professor Nisar Ahmed serving as the CU Boulder site director. Both are members of the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Autonomous Systems Interdisciplinary Research Theme. Other partners in the IUCRC include Sinclair Community College, Brigham Young University, Penn State University, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech University.

Frew said the center builds on expertise within the college, the campus and Colorado. He pointed specifically to the Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles and the Autonomous Systems Interdisciplinary Research Theme as examples of the foundational work already being done here.

“The aviation industry is moving beyond remotely piloted, uninhabited aircraft systems toward new autonomous air mobility and sensing concepts,” he said. “Addressing those challenges requires a multi-disciplinary approach that we are well suited to lead here.”

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 – most importantly – build out the U.S. workforce in critical areas through graduate student-led research projects.

Frew said the center leadership is recruiting industry partners of all sizes from inside and out of the state. Interested groups can email him directly for more information.

Acting Associate Dean for Research Shideh Dashti noted that this is the college’s third new IUCRC since 2020. 

“This new initiative solidifies our college and campus as a leader in this space and offers a great opportunity for our students to directly engage with industry on their way to becoming leaders in the field,” she said.

CU Boulder faculty associated with CAAMS include: professors Eric Frew, Brian Argrow, Dale Lawrence, Nisar Ahmed, John Farnsworth, Morteza Lahijanian, and Zachary Sunberg from aerospace engineering as well as professors Sean Humbert from mechanical engineering and Sriram Sankaranarayanan from computer science.