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Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicle robots take flight with 3Dconnexion 3D mice

When Danny Ellis was first introduced to CAD in high school with a course in Autodesk Inventor, little did he know he would someday be designing and flying aerial robots. As Ellis advanced into the engineering program at the University of Michigan, he was introduced to the powerful capabilities of CATIA, and it was there he also discovered 3Dconnexion 3D mice.

“In between my freshman and sophomore years, I became irritated at how cumbersome it was to rotate a model using a traditional mouse in CATIA,” says Ellis. “I thought, I bet I could get a trackball mouse and program it so when I rotate the mouse, it rotates the part. I did a Google search to see if it had been done before, and that’s when I came across 3Dconnexion – it was exactly what I had been looking for. I ordered the SpaceNavigator right away, and haven’t stopped using it since.”

In 2009 during his senior year, Ellis began researching an aerial robot competition he could undertake at the university. Five days later he started the Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (MAAV) team with 15 members ranging from freshman to graduate students studying Aerospace Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Within a week, the team kicked off their first quadrotor design for the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). At the end of the first year, MAAV successfully built two quadrotor vehicles capable of manual flight.


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