'Intelligent' drones being developed at UNM

Posted at: 05/14/2014 10:44 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In a basement lab at the University of New Mexico, grad student Corbin Whilhelmi's research has a mind of its own.

He's developing a flying, thinking, robot.

Whilhelmi and his colleagues are developing intelligent drones so promising, the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Army are paying for it.

"It doesn't really creep me out. Some of my friends, It bothers them a little bit," Whilhelmi said.

But Whilhelmi says while the creep factor is high, it's not the most important thing about the work he does. He wants to someday develop intelligent prosthesis for wounded vets. 

And researcher Patricio Cruz is working on a delivery drone that moves so precisely, its cargo won't swing back and forth.

This lab is where robots with brains are born.

Cameras all around the ceiling track their flights to the tiniest detail so researchers can learn what their robots are learning.

Computer and electrical engineering professor Doctor Rafael Fierro is a big star in his own department. Those grad students say he lets them be creative with their research and work on projects outside what they must complete with grant money.