Published: 24 October 2013

PhD student wins Silver Medal at International Astronautical Congress

Surrey Space Centre researcher Abhinav Bajpai achieves international recognition at the highly competitive IAC Student Competition.

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is one of the most important events for the global space community, bringing together key figures from academia and industry worldwide, and attended by 3,000 delegates. Representing the highest place ever achieved by a Surrey Space Centre student in the IAC competition, Abhinav’s success on the world stage is a demonstration of the cutting-edge research being conducted in the Centre.

Abhinav’s work at the Surrey Space Centre – under the supervision of Professor Yang Gao – involves developing new ways of achieving ‘visual simultaneous localization and mapping’ (SLAM) of multiple rovers for future planetary exploration. Going beyond state-of-the-art research in autonomous navigation for planetary rovers, this new generation of navigation solutions are one of the key focuses of the SSC STAR Lab.

Abhinav was selected to represent Britain at the International Astronautical Congress after he won the UK round of the 2013 IAC Student Paper Competition (postgraduate category) in June. His prize was sponsorship to attend the 2013 IAC, which took place from 23 to 27 September in Beijing, where he presented his work to an international judging panel. Claiming the 3AF Edmond Brun Silver Medal in the postgraduate competition, Abhinav received his medal and certificate at the conference’s closing ceremony.

Abhinav says: "I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent the UK and the Surrey Space Centre at the prestigious International Astronautical Congress this year and to have had my work recognised with the Edmond Brun 3AF silver medal.  I would like to thank my supervisor Professor Yang Gao for her encouragement and the British Interplanetary Society for sponsoring me to attend the conference.  I hope this is the start of a new era of success for the Space Centre in future IAC student competitions."

Professor Yang Gao comments: "Abhinav's PhD research on planetary visual SLAM represents a new paradigm shift of planetary rover navigation. This is among many projects within that the Surrey Space Centre STAR Lab that aim to extend the Surrey small-sat philosophy to advance autonomous systems and robotics for space. I am extremely happy and proud of Abhinav who stood out through several stages of the IAC student competition and set a good example for our PhD students."

Find out more about the work of the Surrey Space Centre STAR Lab.