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Statement of Purpose

( Distributed and Cognitive Robotics )



Today, Robots are at a stage where computers were 20 years ago. With the present research and
development in the field of robots soon we will see robots being a part of common mans life just like the
computers and cell phones. We will see robot sharing space with human beings and assisting us in various
fields of our life. I have been always been fascinated by robot right from the fiction movies in my school
days until today where I understand the underlying technology and present challenges for robotics. I have a
strong passion for robotics that keeps my mind thinking and keeps me motivated in my work in robotics.
I have done my Bachelors in Electronic Engineering from Vishwakarma Institute of Technologies,
Pune University, India. Pune being the host of Robocon- India, it has a healthy competition among students
to build robots. I started building small robots in my sophomore year. I started with building manual robots
for many inter college robotics competition which helped me understand the importance of a good, sturdy
mechanical design and efficient electrical circuits. After taking courses where I learnt about microcontrollers
and sensors, I started building basic autonomous robots which performed tasks like line follower, obstacle
avoidance, gripper etc. I was selected to represented my college for a team of 13 students at Robocon
2008. Our college was placed third and we won the best autonomous robot title at the national level.
Before starting my masters program I worked at Fennec Fox Technologies , India for period of six
months. The major fields of work at Fennec Fox Technology include Robotics, Image Processing and
Embedded Systems. My role at Fennec Fox Technologies was research on present developments and
technologies in Mobile robots. In the process I read papers and came across organizations contributing to
the advancement in robotics. It was then, I learned about the open source robotics platform PLAYER /
STAGE, a robot server and simulation environment. The main goal of PLAYER / STAGE was modularizing
various levels like hardware interface, sensing, path planning , controls for robot and setting standards of
communication between them. It served the goal of code reusability. As per the requirement I wrote codes
that used available drivers like AMCL, Path Planning etc. I even guided final years engineering projects to
write own PLAYER driver to interface our custom hardware for odometry. At the same time I came across
other open source tools like MRPT, OROCOS and Robot Operating System ( ROS ). ROS undertook the
initiative to integrate different platform together. In addition to completing research I was even responsible
for taking robotics workshops to build basic autonomous robot which included 8051 programming, sensor
interfacing, motor interfacing, ADC.
Presently I am doing my Masters in Electrical Engineering from University of North Carolina,
Charlotte, USA. My curriculum includes courses in embedded system, applied artificial intelligence ( pattern
recognition ), digital signal processing and image processing. In my masters program a few of my major
projects include Monte Carlo Localization, WIFI on a Embedded Linux Board, Character Recognition,
Wireless Quiz System. You can see details of all my current and completed projects on my website
https://sites.google.com/site/surajswamiworkspace/projects. In my Masters Program I have worked on
different technologies, softwares and tools like OpenCV, Matlab, Embedded C , RTOS , Advanced Linux
Programming, Multicore Processor design, sensor interfacing like accelerometer, sonar, infrared, various
micro-controllers, Embedded Linux and Pattern Recognition.
Currently, I am employed as a Research Assistant in Embedded System Laboratory. I am working on
an interdisciplinary project which includes the Electrical, Civil and Earth Science department. My Thesis
Topic is Temperature, Strain and Acoustic Emission monitoring of a natural boulder exposed to the sun: a
test of the efficacy of insolation on physical weathering. Initially my role included Sensor Calibration and
Installation and now I am mainly involved in Data Analysis using MATLAB. It involves understanding patterns
in data during the event of a crack.
Before being employed as Research Assistant, I even worked for Dr. Jing Xiao for a short period of 2
months. My role was testing iCreate using Player/ Stage available drivers. I even read papers on Evolutionary
Planner / Navigator.
At University of North Carolina, I am a member of Charlotte Area Robotics. Charlotte Area Robotics
Club is representing University of North Carolina, Charlotte at the International Arial Robotics Competition
(IARC) - 2011. I will be working on localization of the robot and on proposed idea of interfacing all modules
using ROS. This will give an opportunity to explore the available package available in ROS and learn how to
build our own package as per the requirement.
A PHD program in Distributed and Cognitive Robotics at the IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral will give me a
very good opportunity to learn the latest development and be a part of research in the fields Distributed,
networked robots and Cognitive personal assistant robots. It would my honor to have Professor Pedro LIMA
and Professor Auke Jan IJSPEERT as my advisors. Working with them would give me a chance to learn new
technologies and algorithm from their experience. Their guidance will give a direction to use my knowledge
and skills to find optimum solutions to these challenging projects.
With the latest successful research on hardware, sensors, Path Planning, Mapping, SLAM we have
seen basic mobile robots moving from labs to the consumer market. But for faster development of these
robots it is necessary to have increased modularity with standardized interfaces, improved code reuse,
integration of different tools. For wider acceptance of robot in our day to day life it is equally significant to
give importance to safety hazards. A more detailed research is required for making these robots do our daily
task like helping older people, taking care of laundry, cleaning, cooking and many more small but challenging
tasks for robot. I would like to pursue my doctoral program in robotics at the joint IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral to
contribute to these challenges in robotics and help mankind have a more convenient life.