DEVICES FILL THE SKIES
AND THE FUTURE
BY TIM BROUK
Call them drones. Call them aerobots or unmanned aerial vehicles.
Call them part of a new, emerging field for computer scientists to
propel. Call them the future.
Department of Computer Science students are on the cutting
edge of programming and improving drones of all sizes and designs.
Quadcopters and tricopters are the most recognizable, but plane-shaped designs are on the horizon. Freshman Christian Stewart
and sophomore Harris Christiansen (below) are among the many
undergrads interested in the possibilities.
“The big consumer drone makers have developed APIs (applica-
tion program interfaces) for their drones so you can write software
for them,” says Christiansen, an executive board member of the
student organization Purdue Hackers. “For the general market,
having programmable drones is a huge step forward.”
Stewart, a Los Angeles native, may be only a first-year student,
but he’s been an airplane drone enthusiast since junior high school.
His know-how helped him earn a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California, where NASA develops its robotics.