DroneProfessor

Carrick Detweiler, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, was named a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors for his work with the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab and Drone Amplified. 

Detweiler is the co-founder and co-director of the NIMBUS lab and the co-founder of Drone Amplified. 

To be elected as a senior member of NAI, candidates must possess at least one United States patent that has been licensed or commercialized or have been issued at least five patents, according to the NAI

There have been multiple patents issued for the projects worked on by Detweiler at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Detweiler said. Those patented works include technology that collects water samples from the air via drone, Detweiler said. 

Drone Amplified, for which Detweiler has served as CEO since its founding in 2015, has helped develop and commercialize a technology named IGNIS that allows firefighters to more safely prevent and fight wildfires, according to Detweiler. 

IGNIS are small ignition spheres that are attached to drones. About 30 seconds after the sphere is dropped, it catches fire.

According to Detweiler, this starts safe, prescribed burns during the non-wildfire season to get rid of materials that catch fire during the traditional fire season. It can also be used during wildfire season to start backburns to stop the spread of an ongoing fire. 

Detweiler said he has always had an interest in trying to improve things. 

“I always, even as a little kid, liked to figure out how things worked and how to improve them,” Detweiler said. 

It wasn’t until Detweiler was an undergraduate at Middlebury College he became interested in robotics. 

During his time at Middlebury College, he worked with a couple of faculty members who did work in robotics, and he said he realized that he could merge his passion for computer science and math with engineering things that can work in the real world.

Detweiler said the patent process is often anti-climatic because of its multi-year process, but it is always exciting to finally get.

Detweiler said that the work he is producing now, specifically the work with Drone Amplified and firefighting, is rewarding. 

“We’ve actually been able to take something that was just an idea in a research lab, and we’ve developed it to the point where it’s actually making a big difference in the lives of firefighters,” Detweiler said. 

Jim Higgins, chief engineer of Drone Amplified and Nebraska alumni, said that being able to work with someone like Detweiler is special.  

“He has a wealth of knowledge in both embedded systems and robotics,” Higgins said. “It is fun to work with people who are really good at what they do, and I would certainly put Carrick in that category.”

Higgins said one of Detweiler's best abilities is that he is always available and willing to give advice, even while running multiple projects at a time.

Detweiler said he is motivated to continue to make ideas and research that are currently living in labs into something that can be put in the hands of users. 

Detweiler will become the second UNL member of NAI. He will be honored at an NAI meeting later this year. 

“I am really honored to be elected as a senior member of NAI,” Detweiler said. “I think this is a terribly strong group of inventors from across the country and the world,” Detweiler said. “I look forward to collaborations and opportunities to learn more from other NAI members.” 

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