Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Team Flies High at Annual Flight Competition

The Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics team soared to new heights at the spring 2011 International Micro Aerial Vehicle Competition, capturing 1st place in both the outdoor autonomy and outdoor flight dynamics contests.

Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Team - spring 2011
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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Operator Michael Cancienne, Dr. Girish Chowdhary and Dmitry Bershadsky of the Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics team with the modified Adaptive Flights, Inc. Hornet Micro Aerial Vehicles. 

The Georgia Tech team joined university teams from all over the world for the competition, held this year at Redstone Arsenal, Calhoun Community College and the Alabama Robotics Technology Park in and around Huntsville, Ala., from May 23 - 27.

This year’s competition focused on the autonomy of each flying vehicle, with the judges awarding more points for inventions that operated without using remote or video control. Each team was required to restrict the size and weight of their vehicles, to compete under time constraints, and to combat external flight obstacles such as the wind during outdoor drills.

For this year’s competition, the Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics team partnered with Atlanta-based Adaptive Flight, Inc., which provided the team with one of its Hornet vehicles—a micro, unmanned rotorcraft system. Developed for military surveillance use, the Hornet is one of the world’s smallest and most advanced helicopters, equipped with an autopilot system, GPS-coupled navigation tools, and an advanced mechanism that allows it to drop objects on specific targets. The team then modified the hardware and software of the craft for two missions for the competition.

The team exceeded previous records set during the event’s flight tests during the competition. For the outdoor autonomy competition, the team’s Hornet was able to complete a specified course, identify and drop balls on two targets, and land in a designated area in three minutes, beating the time allotment of 10 minutes. The team was also able to complete the highest number of circuits around the outdoor flight dynamics course in a four-minute window.

Established in 1991, the Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics team consists of undergraduate and graduate students as well as researchers from the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Lockheed Martin Associate Professor of Avionics Integration Eric Johnson of the School of Aerospace Engineering is the faculty advisor for the team.

Sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the International Micro Aerial Vehicle Competition takes place once a year in different parts of the world and serves as a platform to exchange and showcase new concepts in aerial automation and robotics technology.