Spotlight on Young Researchers: Miguel Angel Olivares Mendez

 

Miguel Angel Olivares Mendez works on mobile robots – more specifically: he develops algorithms that enable drones to fly around and perform various tasks autonomously, such as inspecting big structures. The Spanish national came to Luxembourg in 2013 after he came across a Postdoc position that fit like a glove. Currently a Principal Investigator on an FNR PoC project at the University of Luxembourg’s SnT, Miguel’s goal is to help bridge the gap between research and industry.

When Miguel finished his PhD Robotics and Automation in his home country Spain, he and his wife made a list of potential countries they could move to for the next step. At first, Luxembourg was not on the list, but then Miguel found a Postdoc opportunity he could not resist:

“The position that Prof. Holger Voos was offering me was to have the possibility to create from scratch a section of his group related to research with drones. The mix between the big challenge to construct this research line from nothing, combined with the beautiful city, the sensation of security in the streets, how this country is great to raise kids and to be located in the center of Europe convinced us to come to Luxembourg.”

Miguel’s work revolves around mobile robots (mainly unmanned aerial vehicles) – also called drones.

My research is focused on the development of the algorithms needed to give to the drones the capabilities to fly autonomously to conduct civil applications,” Miguel explains, adding that he for example works on selecting the sensor to fit on the drone, developing the algorithm that extracts the information gathered by the drone – and using AI techniques to make the drone able to navigate on its own.

Autonomous inspection of large areas and structures

The idea of drones that can navigate an area on their own might sound very science fiction, but Miguel explains they have multiple uses in industry, such as the application he is currently working on in his FNR Proof-of-Concept (PoC) project: “Some of the civil applications I’m working on are the use of drones for the autonomous inspection of big structures, such as airplanes”.

Miguel has been involved in several projects during his time in Luxembourg, all focused around making autonomous drones ready for industry use. One collaboration with the Luxembourgish army and LuxConnect saw him working on drones to help with the surveillance of big areas, while an FNR CORE project he worked on focused on developing a safety control system for remotely human-piloted drones.

But what does it take for a drone to be able to inspect airplanes and large areas, without someone manually controlling every move? Miguel explains: “To accomplish these tasks, the drones have to be able to take off and land autonomously (even on moving vehicles), measure the environment, detect obstacles, avoid collisions, follow moving objects and generate optimal trajectories to reach the desired destination.”

“I’m absolutely impressed by Luxembourg”

So how is Miguel feeling about his choice to move to Luxembourg to continue his research career? The answer is positive, with Miguel especially appreciating the many opportunities he has had to collaborate with partners outside academia:

“I’m absolutely impressed by Luxembourg. I already met some people from the government, and many companies. I never could imagine to be seated with CEOs, CTOs, general managers from big companies and feel that they are more interested in what I was doing that me in what they are doing.

“This level of respect, confidence and trust in research is completely unique and wonderful. I was involved in projects with the Luxemburgish Army, and the Department of Defense of Luxembourg, Luxair, CargoLux, Luxconnect, Deep Space Industries, CopterSystems, VdL, MUDAM, and I talked with more than 10 companies in the last years.”

Since December 2016, Miguel has taken on major responsibilities in the research activities on mobiles robotics in the Automation & Robotics Research Group at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, and currently also co-supervises no less than 3 PhD candidates.

Miguel was also recently featured in science.lu’s series ‘Meet the Scientists’:


Article published 24 August 2017

More information

Miguel Angel Olivares Mendez at work with his drones

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the final in a series of 25 articles, which are published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramona Pelich

Ramona Pelich uses data from satellites in space to improve maritime surveillance and flood hazard monitoring. Splitting her time between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the company LuxSpace as part of her AFR-PPP Postdoc, the Romanian national’s work has already found direct application when flood maps she co-developed were used in the aftermath of destructive 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Bella Tsachidou

Excessive use of fertilisers in agriculture has led to nitrogen pollution, and calls for bio substitutes are getting louder. PhD candidate Bella Tsachidou from Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) gathers scientific evidence on the benefits of biogas residues and their suitability as biofertilisers, while providing support for the modification of nitrogen-policies on European and global level.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Antonio Ancora

In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Martin Řehoř

In industry, computer simulations and optimizations are established approaches to inform and improve engineering designs. As part of his Industrial Fellowship, Postdoc Martin Řehoř works on numerical solvers that could help solve design problems that involve the processing of fluids.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Yamila Mariel Omar

As part of her Industrial Fellowship – a collaboration between the University of Luxembourg and company Husky – PhD candidate Yamila Mariel Omar helps industry to monetize their proprietary data by means of big data analytics. We speak to the Argentinian national who also became a mother during her PhD.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramping up carbohydrates production

Carbs are all around us: a major constituent in food, they also play a role in many biological processes such as intercellular communication; they are in demand in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are currently used as anticoagulants and in skincare. With the goal of no longer having to rely solely on nature’s production of carbs, scientists have been working on ways to ramp up production. A case for chemistry!

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Chetan Arora

Chetan Arora always knew he wanted to do a PhD, but did not see himself pursuing research beyond that. A few years later, the Indian national has completed his PhD in Requirements Engineering at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, under the supervision of FNR PEARL Chair Lionel Briand – but this is only the beginning. During his PhD, Chetan’s passion for the challenging nature of research was lit, when he helped create a novel tool suite, which has the potential to have a big impact on software engineering.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: A hazelnut quality forecasting system

Can we predict the likelihood of a hazelnut tree becoming sick? Or what quality defects, and in what percentage, will be present in the final harvest? Science could soon make this possible, thanks to a hazelnut quality forecasting system based on a combination of machine learning and simulation models.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Mohammad Zare

Floods across the world have resulted in tremendous economic damage and loss of lives: better tools to predict flood rise and recession are needed. The biggest question facing researchers like Mohammad Zare is how to accurately simulate and predict this complex phenomenon. As part of an Industrial Fellowship between the University of Luxembourg and company RSS-Hydro, the Postdoc Works on improving the simulation and prediction of flash floods, with the goal to develop a decision-making model for flood protection in Luxembourg.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Laurie Maldonado

Laurie Maldonado’s research focuses on single-parent families. After suddenly becoming a single parent herself, she experienced first-hand how quickly single-parent families can fall into poverty in the United States, not knowing if she could continue her research. Then Laurie secured an AFR PhD grant, conducting her research at the LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg and at UCLA. A few years and a successful PhD defence later, we talked with Laurie about her journey and her close-to-home research.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics purposes. Find out more in our Privacy Statement