Low Cost Aerial Autonomy (U.S. Only)

2020 ~ Present | Sandia National Labs


To examine how small, low cost unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to deliver items, operate in constrained environments, and maximize efficiency.  To achieve this, we will develop electromechanical designs, avionics, and algorithms for small, low cost, aerial vehicles.  We will first focus on developing gliding vehicles that are catapult launched.  Once the platforms are developed, we will use the systems to perform a series of increasingly complex example missions.

Due to ITAR and other access restrictions this project is limited to US citizens only.

Issues Involved or Addressed

Designing small gliding unmanned aerial vehicles.  Achieving actuation, sensing, and computation with a small size, weight, and power footprint.  Performing path-planning in advance and potentially in real time.  Navigation using way-points or onboard sensors.  Physically interacting with the environment for landing in constrained spaces or delivering items.  Perceiving potential obstacles or risks of collisions.  Reacting to un-modeled effects or disturbances.

Methods and Technologies

  • Mechatronics
  • Design
  • Feedback Control
  • Navigation
  • Embedded Programming
  • Autonomy
  • Machine Learning

Academic Majors of Interest

  • ComputingComputer Science
  • EngineeringAerospace Engineering
  • EngineeringComputer Engineering
  • EngineeringElectrical Engineering
  • EngineeringMechanical Engineering
  • Other
  • SciencesMathematics

Preferred Interests and Preparation

While the team does not usually have online students, online students with highly relevant backgrounds are encouraged to join.  Example areas are: flight mechanics/simulation, model/rc aircraft, machine learning, path planning, computer game programming. 

Meeting Schedule & Location

Meeting Day 

Team Advisors

Anirban Mazumdar
  • Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Panagiotis Tsiotras
  • Aerospace Engineering

Partner(s) and Sponsor(s)

Sandia National Labs