Computer science senior earns first place at national STEM conference for UAV research

Published: Mar 12, 2013 1:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Morgan Stashick,, 334-844-3591

Lacey Wright, a senior in Auburn University’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, took first place in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) poster presentation at the Emerging Researchers National Conference, held Feb. 28 in Washington D.C. Wright’s research, “Collision Avoidance of Multiple UAS Using a Collision Cone-Based Cost Function,” was conducted during Auburn’s National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) on smart unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) last summer.

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) fly in a limited airspace and fulfill independent missions while avoiding collisions. Wright, along with undergraduate student Zachary Daniels from Lehigh University, used optimization techniques to design safe trajectories for the UAS. They eliminated mid-air collisions using collision cones to avoid dangerous airspace. Their collision cones were defined using simulated annealing, a technique based on principles of thermodynamics used to locate a given function in a large search space.

Auburn’s REU site on UAVs is hosted by Saad Biaz, faculty member in computer science and software engineering, and Gilbert Crouse, faculty member in aerospace engineering.

To learn more about the REU program on smart UAVs, visit