Linnea Persson, former WASP PhD student in Autonomy and Control at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, today employed at AirForestry, has been awarded WASP Alum of the year 2022. This was announced at the yearly WASP Winter Conference in January 2023.

Through the Alumni of the Year award, WASP acknowledges individuals who have excelled within WASP by generating outstanding scientific impact as well as contributions to the program by engagement in the WASP community.

Linnea Persson received the award 2022 with the following motivation:

“As an excellent role model for doctoral students, Linnea Persson has demonstrated how many of the WASP instruments, such the WASP research arenas, can be of benefit to the community. Furthermore, Linnea has demonstrated how to harmonize education and research, and with her domain expertise, demonstrated how research in AI and Autonomous System can be used in a socially relevant context.”

From academia to tech start-up

Linnea Persson graduated in June 2021 with her thesis “Model Predictive Control for Cooperative Rendezvous of Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles”, from the research lab of Professor Bo Wahlberg at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Her field of interest has been autonomous systems and specifically control and trajectory planning:

-During my PhD, I have been working with the problem of landing an aerial vehicle autonomously on top of any kind of moving platform. This is done cooperatively, meaning that you control both of the vehicles, says Linnea Persson.

Today, Linnea Persson is employed at the start-up company AirForestry, with the aim of developing high-capacity drones as harvesting tools for the future, environmentally friendly forestry:

-The idea behind the company is to completely reinvent forestry by doing thinning from the air. By using large drones, AirForestry wants to remove the need for heavy fuel-driven vehicles, thereby reducing unnecessary harm done to the forest, says Linnea Persson.

For her, going to a deep-tech start-up after graduation was a good choice:

-There are many cool things you can do as an engineer with interests in robotics and automation at a company like AirForestry. Examples include automating the drone control to remove the need for a pilot, smart tree sensing as well as analysis and scaling up using multiple collaborative drones and other vehicles, she says.

Practical work during PhD was very valuable

According to Linnea, there are both differences and similarities between academia and industry:

-One of the big similarities with working in a tech start-up and working in academia is that you are inventing something completely new, so there is no ready solution to your problem, and you have to be able to think outside the box.

Linnea highly recommends PhD students to do some practical work as a part of their PhD, not least if you are going to continue outside the academia after graduation. For her, the collaboration within the WASP research arena WARA-PS was very valuable:

-It is really good to have the practical skills as well as your scientific skills. But also because you will learn a lot about your problem when you try to implement it on a real system, says Linnea Persson.

Linneas presentation from the WASP Winter Conference January 2023

Published: January 23rd, 2023

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