2018 Kam K. Leang

Drones to the Rescue:
Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on Society and the Quality of Life

Over the last decade, drone technology has advanced significantly, due in part to innovations in small mobile devices including cell phones, tablets, and other personal electronics. Drones are now smaller, faster, and less expensive, and this trend is likely to continue. Although the term 'drones' has a negative connotation in many minds, the rapid increase in potential high-impact and game-changing non-military applications has attracted significant attention from the average do-it-yourselfer to tech giants that see the technology as disruptive. This talk will summarize the key emerging applications for consumer drones, including drone-assisted emergency response and environmental monitoring, and it will highlight some of the challenges ahead and the technology's impact on society and the quality of life.

Profile PictureKam K. Leang received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah in December 1997 and 1999, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington in December 2004. He is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Utah, where he joined in July 2014. He is also affiliated with the University of Utah Robotics Center. His research covers three main areas: (1) design and control of positioning systems for nanotechnology, (2) control and manufacturing of electroactive polymer actuators for soft robotics, and (3) design, motion planning, and control of unmanned autonomous systems with application in emergency response and environmental monitoring. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense, Dept. of Energy, NASA, and industry.