Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are currently the most dynamic growth sector of the international aerospace industry. Industry predictions are that in the next 3 to 4 years, more than 70,000 jobs will be created in the UAV area with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion. By 2025, that could increase to more then 100,000 jobs and an economic impact of $82 billion.
Civilian applications for UAVs include such things as aerial photography and cinematography, for which UAVs are already in wide use, agricultural crop inspection and maintenance, wildlife monitoring and protection, land surveying, utility right-of-way inspection, fire fighting, disaster and emergency relief efforts, and search and rescue.
This team will work on cutting-edge research on flight control systems (“autopilots”) and data payload systems for these types of applications. This includes teams of multiple UAVs that use complex algorithms and artificial intelligence techniques to manage themselves as they perform their missions with minimal intervention by ground-based operators.
Issues Involved or Addressed
Projects will include:
- Adapting the VCU-designed UAV autopilot system to control a number of “small” UAV aircraft, including multirotor vehicles (commonly referred to as “drones” in the popular media)
- Development of a tablet-based app to display critical vehicle information to the safety pilot during test flights
- Development and testing of algorithms to allow teams of small UAVs (including fixed-wing and multirotor aircraft) to collaborate to solve a common task such as search and rescue, land and crop inspection, etc.
- Development and testing of enhanced capabilities for the VCU entry in the AUVSI Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) Competition