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Research Goals:

The Laboratory is a facility created for the study, development, and testing of diverse methodologies such as Artificial Intelligent (e.g., autonomous agents) and formal techniques (e.g., adaptive control) applicable to unmanned (aerial, ground, underwater as well as humanoid) vehicles.

The 3 main goals of our R&D program are:


  • High-speed: Enable UVS to move at high speeds in a priori unknown dynamic environments.

  • Full autonomy: Develop UVS with self-awareness/reconfiguration capabilities to operate in complex dynamic spaces/environments while managing internal/external disturbances.

  • Confined spaces: Operation of UVS in challenging / restricted / hazardous / GPS-denied spaces.

Dr. Alex Ramirez-Serrano

Director Robotarium lab.

2014 ASTech award recipient in Applied Technology & Innovation for work in UAV and robotic technology. (Alberta highest Science & Technology honor).

Who We Are:

The Unmanned Vehicles (UVs) Robotarium laboratory was founded by Dr. Alex Ramirez-Serrano in January 2004 at the University of Calgary. Its original name was "Autonomous Reconfigurable Robotic Systems (AR  S) Lab".

Then, in April 2017 the lab moved to a larger facility and renamed the "Unmanned Vehicles Robotarium" research laboratory. To date the lab has graduated over 40 graduate students, half a dozen Postdocs, and numerous undergraduate researchers. Some of our alumni are faculty at other universities; some have founded their own companies, and others hold leadership positions in industry.

The Unmanned Vehicles (UVs) Robotarium laboratory is part of the Dept. of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering at the Univ. of Calgary.

The laboratory, a 141.85 m  facility located in Rooms EEEL-124 and EEEL-125 (Unmanned Aerial & Ground Vehicles Divisions, respectively) within the Energy Environment and Experiential Learning (EEEL) engineering building, performs Research & Development (R&D) activities in the following general areas:


  • Unconventional Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS),

  • Reconfigurable intelligent mobile robotic systems,

  • Swarm robotics,

  • Intelligent control for UVS, and

  • Search & Rescue applications of mobile robotics.


Lab renamed


Lab created

Robots are coming to the rescue!


These 3 goals are not independent but are interrelated entities that when combined will enable unmanned vehicles to be deployed/used in real-world situations (e.g., urban search and rescue) where a set of well-defined instructions/commands or process is not available to be provided to the robot(s) to effectively accomplish the given mission.

Areas of work and development in the laboratory include:


  • Formal Control:  

    e.g., MPC, INDI, Backstepping, adaptive, disturbance rejection, etc.

  • Artificial Intelligence:  

    e.g., deep reinforcement learning, artificial neural networks, CMAC, etc.

  • Navigation:

    e.g., landmarks recognition, computer vision, etc.

  • Localization:  

    e.g., in cluttered GPS denied dynamic spaces, swarm formations, etc.

  • Mapping:  

    e.g., cluttered dynamic environments, high-resolution maps for confined spaces, etc.

  • Robot Cooperation & Collaboration:

    e.g., swarm robotics, mobile manipulators, high-speed robot hands, etc.

  • Human-Robot Interaction (HRI):  

    e.g., human-machine collaboration, human-intent identification, etc.

The laboratory also performs design activities of autonomous and intelligent humanoid and reconfigurable hybrid robots. Research activities involve software, hardware design, and embedded distributed systems.


Our vision is to assist in developing a thriving world/society in which UV systems are pervasivepersistent, and perceptive:

  • Pervasive:

Widely used & deployed in assistive roles across the spectrum of human activity (trustworthy and accepted robots available when needed and on demand).

  • Persistent:

Able to operate fully autonomously, reliably, and independently or collaboratively for extended periods of time until the given mission is successfully accomplished.

  • Perceptive:

Fully aware of their environment, the given mission / task / user's intent, and capable of acting intelligently when confronted with new situations and experiences.

Scientific interest in autonomous, reconfigurable, and hybrid mobile robotics has been growing rapidly in recent years, as demonstrated by the steadily growing number of publications, workshops, and conferences. One major reason for this growth (apart from the enormous potential of autonomous unmanned vehicles and systems that can adapt) is that these systems are an important means of investigating and developing theories of animal behavior, adaptation, cooperation, etc. as robots provide a physical instantiation of theories, an existence proof.


Our research laboratory also studies, develops, and tests diverse control methodologies such as Artificial Intelligent (e.g., autonomous agents) and formal techniques (e.g., adaptive & model predictive control) applicable to ground, aerial, and underwater autonomous vehicles. The laboratory investigates navigation, localization, cooperation, collaboration techniques, and mapping mechanisms applicable to mobile robots. The laboratory performs research activities that involve software, hardware design, human-robot integration, embedded and distributed systems.

Nothing is impossible !"

We aim to develop technologies to ensure that unmanned vehicles can deal with unexpected situations (changes, errors, etc.) or tasks that challenge their sensing, modeling, planning, adaptation, or movement envelopes.

We are working to realize fully trustworthy and accepted autonomous robots with effective human-robot interaction capabilities. 

Dr. Alex Ramirez-Serrano

Director of the Unmanned Vehicles Robotarium laboratory

Financial Support:

Our laboratory's research activities are supported by a number of organizations including research grant agencies (e.g., NSERC, MITACS, CFI, Shastri, etc) and companies/organizations who have provided over the years funds, equipment (donations) and time to our R&D work. The donations and support that we receive are essential to our efforts, and we value very much their contributions. Thank You!.


If you are interested in supporting our R&D activities either financially or in any other way (e.g., equipment donations) please "Contact Us". Every single penny counts and it will make a difference in what we can do to improve people's lives, provide assistance in solving the challenges that our industry and humanity faces, and save lives during natural (e.g., earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis), or otherwise (e.g., explosions, collapsed building, and industrial accidents) disasters with the help of unmanned vehicles. Robots are coming to the rescue! 

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