Wind field estimation for small unmanned aerial vehicles

Jack W. Langelaan, Nicholas Alley, James Neidhoefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


This paper describes a method for estimating wind field (wind velocity, rate of change of wind velocity, and wind gradient) for small and mini unmanned aerial vehicles. The approach uses sensors that are already part of a standard autopilot sensor suite (Global Positioning System, inertial measurement unit, airspeed, and magnetometer). The primary motivation is enabling energy harvesting; a secondary motivation is development of a low-cost atmospheric measurement and sampling system. The paper presents an error analysis and discusses the primary contributions to error in the estimated wind field. Results of Monte Carlo simulations compare predicted errors in wind estimates with actual errors and show the effect of using estimated winds for energy harvesting from gusts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1030
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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