Autonomous miniature air vehicles (MAVs) are becoming increasingly popular platforms for the collection of data about an area of interest for military and commercial applications. Two challenges that often present themselves in the process of collecting this data. First, winds can be a significant percentage of the MAV's airspeed and can affect the analysis of collected data if ignored. Second, the majority of MAV's video is transmitted using RF analog transmitters instead of the more desirable digital video due to the computational intensive compression requirements of digital video. This two-part thesis addresses these two challenges. First, this thesis presents an innovative method for estimating the wind velocity using an optical flow sensor mounted on a MAV. Using the flow of features measured by the optical flow sensor in the longitudinal and lateral directions, the MAV's crab-angle is estimated. By combining the crab-angle with measurements of ground track from GPS and the MAV's airspeed, the wind velocity is computed. Unlike other methods, this approach does not require the use of a “varying” path (flying at multiple headings) or the use of magnetometers. Second, this thesis presents an efficient and effective method for video compression by drastically reducing the computational cost of motion estimation. When attempting to compress video, motion estimation is usually more than 80% of the computation required to compress the video. Therefore, we propose to estimate the motion and reduce computation by using (1) knowledge of camera locations (from available MAV IMU sensor data) and (2) the projective geometry of the camera. Both of these methods are run onboard a MAV in real time and their effectiveness is demonstrated through simulated and experimental results.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





video compression, wind estimation, optical flow sensor, UAV, MAV