1996 MIT/Boston University/Draper Laboratory autonomous helicopter system

Eric Johnson, P. A. DeBitetto, C. A. Trott, M. C. Bosse

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Draper Laboratory have cooperated to develop an autonomous aerial vehicle that won the 1996 International Aerial Robotics Competition. This paper describes the approach, system architecture and subsystem designs for the entry. This entry represents a combination of many technology areas: navigation, guidance, control, vision processing, human factors, packaging, power, real-time software, and many others. The aerial vehicle, an autonomous helicopter, performs navigation and control functions using multiple sensors: differential GPS, inertial measurement unit, sonar altimeter, and a flux compass. The aerial transmits video imagery to the ground. A ground based vision processor converts the image data into target position and classification estimates. The system was designed, built, and flown in less than one year and has provided many lessons about autonomous vehicle systems, several of which are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
EventProceedings of the 1996 15th AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conference - Atlanta, GA, USA
Duration: Oct 27 1996Oct 31 1996


OtherProceedings of the 1996 15th AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conference
CityAtlanta, GA, USA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of '1996 MIT/Boston University/Draper Laboratory autonomous helicopter system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this