Student Research

Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Modeling & Software Dynamic Simulation

With the recent advent of cost-effective and increasingly capable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), a great amount of consideration must be given towards testing and simulating the initial design phase prior to production. Although no amount of software simulation can replace flight testing of an unmanned vehicle, this testing process can be greatly augmented through the use of various software tools. In addition to traditional Hardware In the Loop (HIL) ground testing, software testing of the autopilot may also be performed in conjunction with a mathematically driven aircraft dynamics model. This approach, which emulates the autopilot controller within the test computer, is referred to as Software In The Loop (SITL). SITL can greatly reduce both the time required for testing and configuration of the autopilot system, as well as reduce the development time when tracking down issues and making modifications to the system. This process relies heavily on the accuracy of the aircraft dynamic model used. Therefore, finite element modeling (FEM), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and aerodynamic stability control tools are used to generate these models. The product from this research can potentially be applied in commercial, public, and military UAV applications to increase safety, reliability, and reduce production costs.

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