SCS Alum Uses Robotics To Address Global Problems One Drone at a Time

Amanda HartleFriday, January 7, 2022

Alumnus Aakash Sinha is using his SCS education and the power of drones to make a positive impact on the world.

Imagine flying a small, robotic aircraft from goal post to goal post on an American football field. Now, repeat the flight 470 more times, and you'll match the record-setting 32-mile autonomous drone flight recorded by Aakash Sinha's industry-leading startup based in New Delhi.

"It's only the beginning," said Sinha, a 2003 School of Computer Science graduate with a master's degree in robotics. "I'm super excited about how drones can change things, not just here in India but globally."

From delivering vaccines in hard-to-reach areas to limiting fossil fuel leaks in expansive pipelines, the possibilities for positive change are endless.

"We are creating true value, not just valuation for investors," said Sinha, who founded Omnipresent Robot Tech in 2009 and serves as CEO. "We are creating products that have an impact on society.

During his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at Dehli College of Engineering, Sinha crossed paths with a life-changing mentor — Raj Reddy, the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of computer science and robotics in SCS and founding director of CMU's Robotics Institute. Sinha shared his interest in building robots with Reddy, who connected him with a summer internship project at CMU.

"I was so fascinated that I wouldn't even return home," Sinha said of those first months on campus. "I just spent several nights at a stretch in the lab. I'd get up in the morning, go to the swimming pool, take a bath over there, buy a half-gallon of chocolate milk and head back to the lab."

He impressed Reddy during the internship and started his master's program in 2002. More than 20 years later, Sinha talks regularly to Reddy, who heads Omnipresent's advisory board and is one of the company's angel investors.

"I value my decades-long friendship with Aakash, and our work together through Omnipresent's advisory board has allowed us to continue that relationship," Reddy said.

And even after founding his own company — which also provided software and tech support to help India's Chandrayaan II and III rovers navigate the moon's landscape — and engineering roles at iRobot and Lockheed Martin, Sinha said he's still never worked harder than his days at CMU.

"My advisor told me 'Unless you make a true addition to the knowledge of humanity, you're not getting your degree,'" Sinha said. "So I worked hard to make sure that I was solving a problem in an atmosphere that really supported my efforts."

Read more about Sinha and the work Omnipresent Robot Tech is doing on the University Advancement website.

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