MacCallister Higgins – Our Glorious Leader

About Mac

macMacCallister Higgins is the CEO of Nevada Dynamics, a company focused on enabling the commercial use of unmanned aircraft without intensive human path-planning. Additionally, he is helping lead the Udacity self-driving car effort with his unique leadership and engineering background.Previously, he worked on real-time Radar and Lidar sensor systems at SNC, developing next-generation environmental and physical awareness technologies for both fixed wing and rotor aircraft. MacCallister graduated from the department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, with multi-disciplinary research roles in the fields of Human-Robot Interaction and large-scale control of Unmanned Autonomous Systems for the UNR Robotics group, including failure contingencies and safety systems. He also worked at the Polymer Microsystems (PlUS) Lab under Dr. Geiger from early 2011 to 2014, developing lab technologies and assisting in several key, funded projects alongside PhD, masters, and undergraduate students. This position had him developing control system circuit board hardware, writing the software for those embedded systems, implementing radio mesh networks for NASA, and writing published journal papers.

Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineering Team Lead

MacCallister has been brought on to lead the engineering team to put an open-sourced self-driving car on the roads of the Bay Area. He can’t talk too much about this yet, so this article from TechCrunch will have to suffice.

Nevada Dynamics

MacCallister founded and began recruiting for Nevada Dynamics in 2014, initially as a senior project at the University of Nevada. After quickly attracting coding talent (@WarGravy, @lavahot, @dquinnfrank), the NVD team set out to create a product that brought drones from the hobbyist world to the everyday consumer. By massively simplifying the process of long-range communication, path planning, localization, and visualization, the NVD infrastructure looks to provide any business that wants to use drones the ability to do so, without any technical or regulatory barriers.

Want to hear more about Nevada Dynamics?
  • Check out this TV spot about NVD winning the largest collegiate entrepreneurship competition in the country
  • Here’s a great article from the University of Nevada
  • A quick spot on Interdrone, the largest drone conference in the world, where NVD took home the designation of one of top 10 coolest companies by Flystro
  • An AOPA article that features an interview with Mac and NVD

Currently, any company that wants to send a drone across a city runs into many problems, including obstacle avoidance, adherence to local and national laws, long distance monitoring, and expensive pilots. By connecting drones to the internet, Nevada Dynamics provides the technology infrastructure to integrate existing drone systems into a safe, commercial environment, where drones can be sent anywhere with the click of a button or swipe of a finger, and data can be immediately uploaded and visualized.

Postgraduate Studies

MacCallister is also interested in furthering his education. Nevada Dynamics has a policy of encouraging postgraduate work that benefits the company, and is interested in developing strong public/private partnerships.

Challenges both MacCallister and NVD are interested in solving: Multi-Agent SLAM, Cooperative Terrain Referenced/Terrestrial Radio Localization, UAV Swarm Cooperation and Mapping, 3D Environment Reconstruction, Sensor Fusion, Machine Learning and UAVs (I’m currently getting a Nanodegree in Machine Learning Engineering from Udacity and Google)