This thesis describes work in a variety of topics related to aerial robotics, including system identification, state estimation, control, and path planning. The path planners described in this thesis are used to guide a fixed-wing UAV along paths that optimize the aircraft's ability to track a ground target. Existing path planners in the literature either ignore occlusions entirely, or they have limited capability to handle different types of paths. The planners described in this thesis are novel in that they specifically account for the effect of occlusions in urban environments, and they can produce a much richer set of paths than existing planners that account for occlusions. A 3D camera positioning system from Motion Analysis is also described in the context of state estimation, system identification, and control of small unmanned rotorcraft. Specifically, the camera positioning system is integrated inside a control architecture that allows a quadrotor helicopter to fly autonomously using truth data from the positioning system. This thesis describes the system architecture in addition to experiments in state estimation, control, and system identification. There are subtleties involved in using accelerometers for state estimation onboard flying rotorcraft that are often ignored even by researchers well-acquainted with the UAV field. In this thesis, accelerometer-rotorcraft behavior is described in detail. The consequences of ignoring accelerometer-rotorcraft behavior are evaluated, and an observer is presented that achieves better performance by specifically modeling actual accelerometer behavior. The observer is implemented in hardware and results are presented.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





quadrotor control, path planning, aerial surveillance, system identification, quadrotor attitude estimation, quadrotor