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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

This Lockheed Martin Researcher’s Work on UAVs Saves Lives

Kingsley Fregene desires to maintain individuals out of hurt’s means—a lot in order that he has ordered his life round that basic objective. As director of expertise integration at Lockheed Martin, in Grand Prairie, Texas, he leads a group that’s actively pursuing breakthroughs designed to, amongst different issues, permit life-saving missions to be carried out in hazardous environments with out placing people in danger.

He has supervised the event of algorithms for autonomous plane used for army missions and disaster-recovery operations. He additionally contributed to algorithms enabling autonomous undersea autos to examine offshore oil and gasoline platforms after hurricanes in order that divers don’t should.

Kingsley Fregene


Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, Texas


Director of expertise integration and mental property

Member grade


Alma maters

Federal College of Expertise in Owerri, Nigeria; College of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada

Certainly one of his current initiatives was serving to to design the world’s first autonomous unmanned plane system through which all the car—not simply its rotors—spins. The micro air car was impressed by the aerodynamics of maple seeds, whose twirling slows and prolongs their descent.

The advantages of unmanned aerial autos

In a significant mission greater than a decade in the past, Fregene and colleagues at Lockheed Martin teamed up with Kaman Aerospace of Bloomfield, Conn., on an unmanned model of its Ok-Max helicopter. The Ok-Max can ferry as a lot as 2,700 kilograms of cargo in a single journey. The Lockheed group created and carried out mission techniques and management algorithms that augmented the management system already on the helicopter, enabling it to fly utterly autonomously.

The U.S. Marine Corps used the autonomous Ok-Max helicopters for resupply missions in Afghanistan. It’s been estimated that these supply flights made lots of of ground-based convoy missions pointless, thereby sparing 1000’s of troops from being uncovered to improvised explosive gadgets, land mines, and snipers.

The autonomous model of the Ok-Max additionally has been demonstrated in disaster-recovery operations. It presents the potential for conserving humanitarian help staff away from harmful conditions, in addition to rescuing individuals trapped in catastrophe zones.

“It’s typically higher to fly in lifesaving provides as a substitute of loading vans with provides to deliver them alongside roads which may not be satisfactory anymore,” Fregene says.

Ok-Max and one in every of Lockheed Martin’s small UAVs, the Indago, have been used to battle fires. Indago flies above buildings engulfed in flames and maps out the recent zones, on which Ok-Max then drops flame retardant or water.

“This collaborative mission between two of our platforms means no firefighters are put in hurt’s means,” Fregene says.

He and his group additionally helped within the growth of the maple seed–impressed Samarai, the primary autonomous wholly rotating unmanned plane system. The 41-centimeter-long drone weighs a mere 227 grams. It is dependent upon an algorithm that tells an actuator when and the way a lot to regulate the angle of a flap that determines its route.

In contrast with different plane, the spinning drone is less complicated to provide, requires much less upkeep, and is much less complicated to manage as a result of its solely management floor is the trailing-edge flap.

man holding a airplane like model in his outstretched arm with trees in the backgroundIEEE Fellow Kingsley Fregene holds up the maple seed–impressed Samarai, the primary autonomous wholly rotating unmanned plane system.Kingsley Fregene

Saving lives in Nigeria

Fregene’s goal to maintain individuals secure began together with his first after-school job, as a bus conductor, when he was within the sixth grade. As a part of the job, in Oghara, Nigeria, then a small fishing village alongside the Niger River, he collected fares and directed passengers on and off the bus.

With no visitors cops or visitors lights, there typically was chaos at main intersections. Folks would get injured, and he often would get out and direct visitors.

“I, a bit of man, stood on the market with a shiny orange shirt and began directing visitors,” he says. “It’s wonderful that folks paid consideration and listened to me.”

Many children are impressed to pursue engineering by fidgeting with devices. Not Fregene.

“The circumstances of my childhood didn’t present alternatives to get my fingers on gadgets to tinker with,” he says. “What we had have been a number of alternatives to watch nature.”

The presence of oil and gasoline installations in his village, which is within the oil-producing a part of Nigeria, led him to marvel how they labored and the way they have been remotely managed. They didn’t stay mysterious for lengthy.

Whereas attending the Federal College of Expertise in Owerri, Nigeria, he interned on the Nigerian Nationwide Petroleum Corp., which was putting in these distant working techniques, calibrating them, and validating their operation.

After graduating first in his class in 1996 with a bachelor’s diploma in electrical and pc engineering, he went on to graduate faculty on the College of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, the place he researched autonomy and automated management techniques. Whereas incomes grasp’s and doctoral levels, each in electrical and pc engineering, he discovered time to assist these extra needy than he was.

He joined a group of pupil volunteers who organized drop-in homework golf equipment and offered mentoring to at-risk grade faculty college students locally. The exercise received him the college’s President’s Circle Award in 2001.

Considering again on that point, Fregene recollects his interplay with one lady whose life he helped flip round.

“She was dragged kicking and screaming more often than not to finish these classes,” Fregene recollects. “However she began believing in herself and what she might do. And all the pieces modified. She ended up getting accepted to the College of Waterloo and have become a part of the UW tutor group I used to be main.”

Fregene says his dedication to the tutoring and mentoring program got here from having as soon as been in want of educational help himself. Though he had wonderful grades in historical past and language arts, he did poorly in arithmetic and science. Issues rotated for him within the ninth grade when a brand new trainer had a specific means of educating math that “turned the sunshine bulb on in my mind,” he says. “My grades took off proper after he confirmed up.”

After finishing his doctorate in 2002, he started working as an R&D engineer at a Honeywell Aerospace facility in Minneapolis. Throughout six years there, he labored on the event of unmanned aerial autos together with a drone that was utilized in distant sensing of chemical, organic, radiological, nuclear, and explosive hazards. The drone turned the world’s first aerial robotic used for nuclear catastrophe restoration when it flew contained in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear energy plant within the aftermath of a 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and knocked out the plant’s energy and cooling, inflicting meltdowns in three reactor cores.

At Honeywell he additionally labored on microelectromechanical techniques, that are utilized in gyroscopes and inertial measurement items. Each MEMS instruments, that are used to measure the angular movement of a physique, might be present in cellphones. Fregene additionally labored on a management system to make corrections to the imperfections that diminished the MEMS sensors’ accuracy.

He left the corporate in 2008 to grow to be lead engineer and scientist on the Lockheed Martin analysis facility in Cherry Hill, N.J.

IEEE membership has its advantages

Fregene turned acquainted with IEEE as an undergrad by studying journals such because the IEEE Transactions on Automated Management and the IEEE Management Techniques journal, for which he has served as visitor editor.

He joined IEEE in grad faculty, and that call has been paying dividends ever since, he says.

The connections he made via the group helped him land internships at main laboratories, beginning him on his profession path. After assembly researchers at conferences or studying their papers in IEEE publications, he would ship them notes introducing himself and indicating his curiosity in visiting the researcher’s lab and dealing there through the summer time. The observe led to internships at Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory, in New Mexico, and on the Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory, in Tennessee.

The IEEE connections helped him get his first job. Whereas engaged on his grasp’s diploma, he introduced a paper on the 1999 IEEE Worldwide Symposium on Clever Management.

“After my presentation,” he says, “someone from Honeywell came visiting and stated, ‘That was a terrific presentation. By the best way, these are the kinds of issues we do at Honeywell. I believe it could be a terrific place for you if you’re prepared to start out working.’”

Fregene stays energetic in IEEE. He’s on the editorial board of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, serves as an affiliate editor for theIEEE Robotics and Automation Journal, and not too long ago accomplished two phrases as chair of the IEEE technical committee on aerospace controls.

IEEE “is the kind of world group that gives a discussion board for stellar researchers to speak the work they’re doing to colleagues,” he says, “and for setting requirements that outline real-life techniques which can be altering the world on daily basis.”

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