Development and test of highly autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

E. N. Johnson, A. A. Proctor, J. Ha, A. R. Tannenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper describes the design, development, and testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) with highly automated search capabilities. Here, systems are able to respond on their own in the presence of considerable uncertainty utilizing an image processor, tracker/mapper, mission manager, and trajectory generation; and are used to complete a realistic benchmark reconnaissance mission. Subsequent to the selection of the search area, all functions are automated and human operator assistance is not required. The applications of these capabilities include reduction of operator workload in operational UAV systems, new UAV or guided-munition missions conducted without the assistance or availability of human operators, or the enhancement/augmentation of human search capabilities. The resulting system was able to search the 15-building village automatically with speed comparable to a human operator searching on foot or with a conventional remotely piloted vehicle. It was successful in 6 of 7 actual flights over the McKenna Military Operations in Urban Terrain test site over two different days and a variety of lighting conditions and choice of desired building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-501
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Aerospace Computing, Information and Communication
Issue numberDEC.
StatePublished - Dec 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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