An entrepreneurial path for robotic vehicles

MecE PhD student carves an entrepreneurial path with robotic vehicles

Faculty of Engineering communications staff - 30 November 2018

As a young boy from Quito, Ecuador who liked to build his own toys, Nicolas Olmedo always knew engineering was where he'd end up. Today, he's pursing his PhD in mechanical engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Lipsett, specializing in field robotics for environmental monitoring.

During his undergraduate studies Olmedo joined the U of A Aerial Robotics Group and met two like-minded individuals, Stephen Dwyer and Jamie Yuen. The three worked well together and enjoyed competing against teams from other universities. The trio's fourth year capstone project was a drill for a Mars exploration vehicle and won a national prize. Now that the Mars Insight has landed, Olmedo is setting his sights on space once again.

"I always thought robotics was a very promising field that could change how things are done," says Olmedo.

Nicolas's research expands on technologies develops for Mars exploration. In his work he tailors these technologies for investigating terrains too dangerous and expensive to send human workers, such as oil sands tailings ponds. But that's not the only iron he has in the fire. With Dwyer, Yuen and Lipsett, Nicolas has founded Copperstone Technologies, which builds autonomous amphibious robots for environmental monitoring, specifically for harsh environments.

Ultimately Olmedo wants to lead an established high-tech development company and take his technologies into space. First though he'll finish his PhD.