Panagiotis Tsiotras

Panagiotis “Panos” Tsiotras is the David and Andrew Lewis Chair and professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering and associate director of the Georgia Tech Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. One of his primary research areas focuses on generating reliable, real-time trajectories for collision-free path control. “The first step to successfully routing an autonomous air vehicle is to take off and land reliably under both normal and unexpected conditions,” Tsiotras states. “Real-time trajectory generation is critical to achieving safe landing and avoiding collisions when something unexpected happens.”

As an expert who has applied autonomous controls to both ground and air vehicles, Tsiotras envisions “a future in which the lines between ground and air vehicles become blurred. Imagine a world in which we can extend the range of package delivery via drones by integrating the delivery networks for drones and ground vehicles. If a ground delivery vehicle and drone are both headed in the same direction, we could land the drone on a moving target [the ground vehicle] and let the ground vehicle transport the drone until their paths diverge.”

Tsiotras also envisions that workforce development will be critical to the ­success of urban and regional air mobility. “As autonomous ground and air vehicles become more complex, the traditional role of the car mechanic will change, and the current decentralized system of aircraft maintenance used today by commercial airlines may become obsolete. If highly specialized training is needed to maintain autonomous systems, this function could transition to the aircraft manufacturers.”

Additional information about the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines is available here.

Read more about Tsiotras’ approaches for generating trajectories for an aircraft in an emergency situation here.