My name is Ankur Mohan. I’m the author of this blog and currently a Director of Engineering at Capital One, where I lead a team building a ML platform. I love technology and the power of technology to change life for the better and make people more productive. I’m originally from India and got my Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Bombay, followed by a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland and a M.B.A. from Georgetown University.
I did computer vision research during grad school and in my first couple of jobs after grad school. Following that, I was an early member of a startup called Scaleform that developed a flash player runtime for video games. This startup became successful and was acquired by Autodesk, where I was a product manager for many years. Around 2015, I became interested in drones and flight control systems – I built a drone from scratch, including writing the flight control system (sensor fusion, command and PID control system, PWM mixer and many other modules). This was by far the hardest thing I have done 🙂 A video of my drone’s first flight is here:
Nothing super exciting, but the Arduino Mega board on the quadcopter is running my flight control system to stay level! It is getting raw sensor inputs from the gyros and accels, computing orientation, sending the right control signals to the motors, accepting user input (I was controlling the throttle while recording the video, which is why the drone is not always in view in the video)..
Another one I recorded while I was adjusting the PID control gains using “one-axis control”:
You can also see the command and control application in this video.
Seeing the huge potential of drones in capturing aerial imagery for surveys, I worked with a friend at a DC area architecture firm and did some drone based land surveys. Some of the results are shown in these pages (which were built to showcase the potential of drone based aerial imagery to construct geotiffs and point clouds). The sidebar shows WebGL views of 3D models constructed by applying photogrammetry to drone imagery. You can use the mouse to rotate these models in 3D.
Over the last 5 years, I have been working in the field of cloud computing and AI and I think this is the perfect area to spend the rest of my career in. AI is a great blend of mathematics and statistics, software engineering and hardware engineering. The availability of large amounts of data combined with foundational advances in neural network architecture is resulting in solutions to problems such as object localization and recognition and natural language understanding that were long considered intractable for computers. This has paradigm shifting implications for every industry and is unlocking a new surge of productivity improvements, even in risk-averse industries such as health-care where AI systems are increasingly being used to automate tedious tasks such as interpreting radiology scans.
Currently, AI research is open and collaborative. It has become an expectation for researchers to release source code for their work, making it possible for others to learn and reproduce results. I regularly read AI/ML papers presented at top conferences and benefit tremendously from articles and blogs written by other people to explain some of the finer points in these papers. This website is my attempt to give back to the community. I hope that my blogs will be useful for others.
I also love traveling and lucky enough to travel around the world on a regular basis. I love writing about the history and culture of the places I visit during my travels. Check out my travel blogs here.