Cars. Lights. Cameras. Action!

Paul Karam, Director Engineering at Quanser

Paul Karam

Chief Operating Officer | Quanser

Although this might sound like I just came back from the F1 race in Montreal, this blog is actually about Quanser’s return to in person conferences! 

In my 20 years at Quanser, going to conferences and tradeshows have always been an integral part of my development and one of the activities I really enjoy and look forward to.  

As I set out to write this blog, I found myself reflecting on previous events and looking to connect the dots from our initial days of a small table top display to today’s multifaceted demonstration of our exciting platforms! 

 

It was fitting that Quanser’s first in person conference was the American Controls Conference. From our beginnings more than 30 years ago, control systems research and teaching have been at the core of our offerings. As our technology and solutions have evolved from those beginnings and now encompass not just controls but exciting areas such as robotics, autonomous systems, mechatronics as well as new areas such as machine learning and applied AI, we wanted to meet our customers and colleagues in person to ensure our approach and new developments were still aligned and met their wants and needs. We are a feedback company after all and no matter how impressive our solutions might seem to us, they need to resonate with our customers! 

Being our first in person event since the pandemic, we knew we wanted to make a big splash and have compelling demonstrations to foster discussions and interesting applications of our solutions. As the ACC is a highly technical conference, we also wanted to ensure we were showing applications that would connect with the audience. We surveyed the 16 tracks (yes 16!) and found the most common themes to include adaptive control, autonomous systems, control applications, estimation, optimal control and machine learning. With those themes in mind, we configured our demonstrations in a way to cover as many of those themes as possible! Our booth consisted of our latest Self-Driving Car demo that had 3 vehicles (QCars) estimate their position and use distributed control to optimally navigate a course all the while leveraging machine learning to classify road signs and react to them! Flanking the cars was our academic robotic manipulator (QArm) as well as our latest control systems products (Aero 2 and QUBE-Servo 2). 

 

We ended the conference by hosting a special session with long time customer Dr. Mike Frye from the University of the Incarnate Word. Dr. Frye held a session on Boosting your success with the Department of Defence grant funding proposals”. Our special session was after lunch on the 3rd day of the conference yet was still a packed house! Thanks for being such a great partner Mike! 

 

In all my years representing Quanser at conferences and events like this one, I have never been so busy and had this many conversations! Five of us from Quanser attended the event yet that still wasn’t enough to cover the traffic we had at each break! I am sure being next to the coffee and refreshments helped 😉 Each conversation allowed us to better understand the current state of research in this exciting and growing field and one of the biggest takeaways is the trend to investigate and discover the new applications of controls. One of Quanser’s goals is and has always been “To Bring Theory to Life”, nothing excites us more than to see this growing community look for new and exciting ways to apply Control Systems and more broadly speaking Applied Intelligence to new frontiers and applications! As a Trekkie, I can’t help but paraphrase Star Trek: “To boldly go where no man robot has gone before”.