path splines, path planning, UAV, unmanned aircraft


A trajectory planning scheme that generates feasible flight routes for an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) is developed. A preliminary path is generated from a Voronoi diagram based on threat locations. This path consists of a series of straight-line segments that cannot be followed exactly by the UAV. Using a series of cubic splines to connect these straight-line segments, this path is refined into an optimum path that is flyable by the UAV. Utilizing a decomposition strategy, both the full path (coarse detail) to the target and the proximate optimum path (fine detail) near the UAV can be quickly computed. The remainder of the optimal proximate path is computed incrementally as the UAV flies the previously computed portion of the path. By decomposing the problem into many smaller problems, the computational burden for calculating optimal paths approaches the near-real-time capabilities desired for the planner. The decomposition approach also allows pop-up threats that occur along the path to be handled efficiently. Simulation results are presented that illustrate the strengths of the approach.

Original Publication Citation

Kevin Judd and Timothy McLain. "Spline based path planning for unmanned air vehicles", AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit, Guidance, Navigation, and Control and Co-located Conferences, ().

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering