Team 23, Ready to Ascend!
October 11th 2022
Intro to Ascend
Hello world, hello NTNU! Welcome to Ascend’s first blog post! We hope you’ve had a great semester so far. Perhaps you are struggling with the lectures or are stalling with the boring homework assignments. Look no further if you are a student wondering what exciting things you can do while you’re at NTNU! With this blog, we want to build a collection of development updates and technical insights to help you learn more about the exciting journey at Ascend NTNU.
As the semester began, all the technical organizations launched a series of social events to welcome new student members. Ascend has been no exception; we have also offered generously to ensure our members know everything about what’s to come. At Ascend, we abide by our three foundational working principles in recruiting some of the most ambitious and motivated students to venture into the journey of developing never-seen-before gigantic flying robot technology.
Well, at least that's the goal (or a daydream). This year, Ascend recruited people ranging from first- to final-year students in disciplines as varied as cybernetics and humanities. The common thread is that we’re all passionate about technology. So now, with our endless supply of Billy’s and Powerking, we are ready to make kick-ass drones! After all, what’s more awesome than transforming plain and boring code into futuristic flying robots? Therefore, we built everything from scratch. But most importantly, we are all professionally trained pilots who know how to play hard and do cool stuff in the sky with our 15kg Nostromo drone:
Learning by Doing
Despite our achievements, we understand that not everyone is an expert and has a life to live. That’s why we want to ensure everyone gets comfortable with Ascend’s projects before starting to work. Thanks to our flat and open atmosphere at Ascend, our Supreme leaders pave the way for a unique kick-start.
Last two weeks, we offered an extended course period with lots of great training courses to teach everything our new members need to know about Ascend. The Ascend group is divided into several small teams where we each have different responsibilities and so each group gets courses specific to them. This can be anything from machine learning to photoshop.
At the beginning of the course period, we had a fun social gathering where we got to mingle with each other. Then, our board members organized a small toy drone flying competition. But most of us new members had never flown a drone before, so you can imagine how that went…. One drone had to be retrieved from the ceiling.
In week two of the course period, we were fortunate enough to have some courses hosted by our sponsors. One of the courses was in Docker, ROS2, and Machine Learning. They offered a speech on why Ascend’s work in drones is relevant to real-world problems they are also trying to solve, such as utilizing computer vision to perform automotive inspections and collect data from images, videos, and other inputs. Our Perception team has been developing a similar machine learning feature in which our drone can detect objects and rough human figures. We also use computer vision to identify the data and then process them through the Autonomy team’s AI pathfinding system to automate drone movements.
(Our deputy chief engineer, George, having an intimate moment with Nostromo)
Every team seems to have landed smoothly after the course period. Now, each technical group has its individual start-up projects.
Our Perception team is currently working to improve the efficiency of image processing by monitoring camera footage in the Hardware room to detect tools on the workbench. Hardware, on the other hand, is building battle robots in preparation for the Robokrig tournament hosted by Omega Verksted. It’s time for us champions to reclaim our title. The Control team is setting up PX4 autopilot software for unmanned flights. The rest of the technical teams are playing and making video games to learn about and test features of our drones and technologies. The Autonomy team currently develops a Minecraft bot to chop down trees. Yes, a Minecraft bot. The objective is to test the interactions between AI and ROS (Robot Operating System) to improve responses for our drones. As for the backbone of our organization, the new DevOps team has been learning about AWS (Amazon Web Services) and cloud-based infrastructure. They thought the best way to get started in software maintenance and deployment was to develop a PERN stack based game called Flappy Nostromo using both server and client side technology.
As fellow students from NTNU, we are happy to become the chosen ones for the team 2023. We want to ascend even further and beyond to the next level of hardware and software development! We invite you to witness our growth. Perhaps you will have a chance to join us!
Moving forward in the first half of October, the primary goal will be preparing a full-scale system test for mission 9 of the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). Meanwhile, Team 2023 will also brainstorm plans and designs for the Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) competition to perform our very best in our newest competition!
Well, that’s about it for the first month of Ascend. With our ambitious goal in the long run, we promise that we will bring you along on our journey. Stay tuned for exciting future updates!