An engineering design project of test rigs for optics in Keck Planet Finder
A registered student organization with multiple engineering projects for NASA and Aptiv
The Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) is a UC Berkeley-affiliated facility that conducts both theoretical and experimental astronomical research and builds instruments for space missions. Founded in 1959, SSL has been involved in over 50 NASA missions, including the Apollo, Mariner, and Explorer programs.
Keck Planet Finder (KPF) is the most precise spectrograph ever built, and will be used to detect exoplanets using Doppler spectroscopy at the W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea. Much of the optics, which are designed to have up to 1 nanometer resolution, are being constructed at SSL.
From January to July of 2019, I worked on Keck Planet Finder as a mechanical engineering assistant under SSL Director Stuart Bale. My job was to use Solidworks to design engineering test units (ETUs) like the one pictured on the left. These test rigs were used to detect and correct for mirror glitches: spikes in data collected from the mirrors due to minute movements of the optics.
Goldeneye was a UC Berkeley student organization that I cofounded in the fall of 2016. A multidisciplinary club of engineers, physicists, and computer scientists, we undertook two engineering research projects: a NASA design competition and an autonomous vehicle project for Aptiv PLC.
Our first project was an entry in the 2017 NASA Aeronautics University Design Challenge, wherein we created a white paper concept of Goldeneye AB1, a supersonic business jet designed to meet specific performance and environmental criteria for functionality and efficiency. Our concept included a novel variable-geometry wing that was designed to change shape to optimize lift and reduce drag in both supersonic (cruise) and subsonic (takeoff and landing) flight regimes. My main contributions to the paper were the design of the fuselage and the mechanism that controlled the variable wing geometry, in addition to being the principal editor of the paper.
A group of entirely freshmen and sophomores, we were thrilled to be awarded an honorable mention, especially considering that we competed against much older, more experienced teams from schools with dedicated aerospace departments (many of whose submissions were capstone senior projects). NASA flew us out to Langley Research Center to accept our award, present our work, and tour the storied facilities. Our paper is attached below.
Check out our mechanical engineering department's press release about our work!
Our next project was fully funded by Aptiv PLC, an automotive parts manufacturer involved in autonomous vehicle technology. We also collaborated with Prof. Francesco Borrelli's Model Predictive Control (MPC) Lab, which has built the Berkeley Autonomous Race Car (BARC), a 1:10 scale RC car designed to navigate autonomously while performing many complex maneuvers (drifting, lane changing, object avoidance, etc.). We took this platform and updated the sensor suite to include high resolution cameras and a LIDAR sensor.
We employed a state feedback controller for the vehicle's lane keeping system. The image feed from the vehicle's camera is sent to a separate computer, where an algorithm detects and classifies the lane. This information is sent back to the vehicle which adjusts its motion to keep its distance from the center of the lane small.
Our object detection system relied on sensor fusion, combining the information from the camera—which is good for object detection/classification—with the LIDAR's data, which is used to measure distances from other objects. This approach is necessary because it is insufficient to simply detect where an object is in a two dimensional field of view, and information about depth is needed as well.
We designed several algorithms to control the vehicle's velocity, steering angle, and lateral position. Our controllers used Model Predictive Control algorithms to plan and execute trajectories both in the presence of and without obstacles.
Aptiv invited us to present our work, demo our car's abilities, and tour their facilities in Mountain View. Our presentation is included below.
Learn much more about this project on the Goldeneye website!
A demo of our vehicle's lane keeping abilities