SPUR 2023: Siming He, W’24


Why did you decide to do a research program and what drew you to this topic?

I decided to participate in SPUR because I found an exciting opportunity to develop computer vision tools and potentially advance sustainability research. It is also a local effort to understand the trees on the Penn campus. Specifically, I aimed at developing hardware and software that automates the process of tree data collection. This development would allow us to understand the geometric and semantic map of trees at a large scale. We hope to better understand trees’ species, the size of their trunk, the volume of the foliage, and more from these maps. Moreover, we hope to raise awareness about sustainability and trees on campus if we can create a 3D photorealistic map of Penn campus trees through NeRF technology.


What did you learn? How do you hope to apply what you learned moving forward? Did this research experience fit in with an academic, personal or career goal? 

In this research, I learned about the full stack of robotics from building the sensor tower, calibrating the sensors, creating a software pipeline for data collection, doing data collection, and analyzing collected data. I gained a lot of experience working with different sensors and the experience would be valuable for my future research. I also learned several perception algorithms including LiDAR-based SLAM and neural radiance field that would be useful in the future. Lastly, the sensor tower could be used as a platform for various experiments in future projects.


What advice would you give others who are thinking about doing a research program?

In such a research program, you would have the freedom to explore things that you are curious and passionate about. This is also an excellent opportunity for personal and intellectual growth.