Dr. Tamer Inanc on UAV Technology and Biometrics and Biomedical Solutions

January 6, 2017

Headshot of Dr. Tamer Inanc

Drone technology has a host of potential commercial applications, from package delivery to environmental monitoring and conservation. It’s thanks to the work of people like Dr. Tamer Inanc, a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, that these technologies have become increasingly viable. Dr. Inanc’s research involves autonomous robotics, nonlinear trajectory generation for UAVs, robust active vision systems, robust control and identification, biometrics and biomedical problems.

He has a cool calm about him that puts you at ease. Dr. Inanc earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering in Turkey. From there he immigrated to the United States to obtain both a Master’s degree and PhD at Penn State University, completing his terminal degree in 2002. His post-doctoral work took him to Cal Tech, which affectionately identified as “the MIT of the West Coast,” working with the control and dynamical systems department. After a two-year stint in California, Dr. Inanc and his wife settled in Louisville, where he has worked with the University ever since.

“It’s good. It’s a good place to raise a family. The people I’ve met so far are very friendly. I’ve got several friends in different departments,” says Dr. Inanc.

His work focuses on control systems and identification, which he applies not only to UAV technology, but to diagnostic medical applications including biometrics. He has worked with the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab for opportunistic trajectory on UAVs meant to operate on Mars. That work specifically attends to optimal power use by means of navigation: the idea is that a drone takes the path of least resistance so that every move counts.

That attention to fine details manifests itself equally in his work with optimal control system design. Where his research with UAV technology centers around navigation systems meant to converse energy, his work in the field of biometrics is aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of dosage to patients. In particular, he has worked with the kidney disease center at the University on a project called Personalized Drug Dosing for Anemia Patients.

He explains, “These are the medicines that have narrow therapeutic range. You would like to give a minimal dosage to the patients, so that you can have the desired effect. For anemia patients, you check the blood for the hemoglobin. You want that to be between 10 and 12. If it goes above 12 or below 10, that’s bad news for the patient. This is called an EPO drug. If you give less to the patience… we are trying to find some sort of optimal drug dosage for the patients.”

Continuing he adds, “When these drug companies come up with this dosage strategy, they look at population data to create an average patient. But the average patient doesn’t exist. We look at the limited number of patient drug dose response. First I find mathematical models, and this tells me the behavior of the patient. This is specific to A patient. Using that model, I can design optimal control algorithms which optimized the drug dose regimen for that patient.”

As an educator, Dr. Inanc pours as much attention into his students as he does his research. Recently, his Fundamentals of Autonomous Robots class, an upper level ECE course, culminated in a competitive match that pit teams of engineers against one another, with their respective robot as the player.

“This is a part of the class that I’m teaching. This is part of their labs. During the semester, they first take six structured labs. They learn to use different sensors: Infrared sensors, cameras, etc. I give them the final competition. They design the robots. I’m the designer of the competition and organizer,” says Dr. Inanc.

You can watch that competition here, as covered by Cards News to get a feel for the excitement and crowd generated by the event.