Robotics has been the ultimate form of man’s inspiration from nature as he tries to copy all of his own attributes and implement them on a “non-living” object. Most of its underlying principles, dictated by Physics and Mathematics, culminated in due course of my baccalaureate degree to be encapsulated in a subject called Control Systems. The past few years have given me the chance to explore several areas of Robotics in my projects, ranging from industrial solutions to mathematical issues and this has shaped my desire to pursue graduate studies in this field.
What started initially as a favourite hobby, over time turned into a passion and my zest to be a professional in this field was fuelled ever since. I began by designing circuits to make an autonomous robot by joining the Robotics and Machine Intelligence Club (RMI). I learnt that Robotics requires patience and dedication as it often involves debugging leading into sleepless nights in a row. As should be emphasized, apart from thinking positively at the face of failure, the situation demanded and brought out my team skills. Eventually all this hard-work paid off, we won prizes in quite a few events such as “Micromouse” and “Wall- Climber”. To supplement my knowledge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, I have taken Natural Language Processing as an elective. Apart from learning concepts, I also shared all that I learnt, by means of workshops. I believe that teaching gives us a great insight into the minute details of a subject.
In the summer of 2008, after my second year, that I got a much sought-after summer internship at the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore) under Ms.Sonal Navle, Scientist/Engineer, in the Control Electronics Division. I was given the task of ‘Designing a Digital IIR Bandpass Filter for a Gyroscopic Signal in FPGA using Verilog HDL’. Having done only basics, it was a tough ask as I had to learn both Verilog and about Digital Signal Processing and integrate them. Unfazed and always ready to meet challenges, I designed an IIR Filter in Matlab. After developing the code for it in Verilog using the Direct Arithmetic Algorithm, I had it verified and simulated extensively using ModelSim and XilinxISE 7.1. The excitement and the Eureka feeling that accompanied the experience appealed to me greatly and made it a special one.
In order to explore robotics from a rigorous theoretical perspective, I approached Dr.Sankaranarayanan Velupillai, (IITB Ph.D), Asst. Professor at the Electrical and Electronics Department, NIT, Trichy, who has worked intensively in the area of Under-actuated Systems. Along with another batch mate, I was initially assigned to review literature on Sliding Mode Control. This project gave me an insight into modelling physical systems and developing control algorithms to tackle non-linear systems. We then, went about finding a better solution for the popular problem of Cart on a Beam system using Higher Order Sliding Mode. After...