Onboard Sense-and-Avoid (SAA) for small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Schematic of Sense-and-Avoid

Schematic of Sense-and-Avoid (dronelife.com)

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (s-UAS) have generated a lot of interest recently among the research community due to their potential to revolutionize some of the applications in civilian domain such as emergency management, law enforcement, infrastructure inspection, precision agriculture, package delivery, and imaging/surveillance.  Given these numerous potential applications and the inexpensive nature of these s-UAS, it is anticipated that there will be an extremely large number of UAS flying in much crowded airspace once allowed by government regulation. 

Diagram of a drone

UAV designed and built in-house for obstacle detection and mapping

This presents several challenges in safe operation of UAS in terms of management of their traffic so that a large number of UAS can be operated in a congested airspace such that the required separation is maintained between manned aircraft, UAS and other stationary ground obstacles. One of the aspects of safe operation of UAS is having the onboard Sense-and-Avoid capability that would allow the UAS to be able to detect other UAS (and other mobile or stationary obstacles) in the neighborhood and plan an escape route to avoid the collision. Detection is enabled by onboard sensors such as radar or vision/thermal camera, or via ADS-B that allows one UAS to communicate to the others in the neighborhood. Once detection has occurred, the UAS should obtain an escape route to avoid the collision. UAV MASTER Lab has built prototypes that has laser and vision sensors. This project will advance the capability by adding sensors such as Intel Real Sense that provide vision with depth. This project will involve hands-on experience of working with different sensors, flight controllers and UAS platforms, and software development to process sensor data and plan escape routes.

Headshot of Manish Kumar

Manish Kumar

Professor, CEAS - Mechanical Eng

629 Rhodes Hall


Cooperative Distributed Systems Lab
Dr. Manish Kumar directs Cooperative Distributed Systems (CDS) Laboratory, Collaboratory for Medical Innovation and Implementation, and co-directs UAV MASTER Lab. His research interests include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, robotics, decision-making and control in complex systems, multi-sensor data fusion, swarm systems, and multiple robot coordination and control. His research has been supported by funding obtained from National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Higher Education, and several industry. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He has served as the Chair of the Robotics Technical Committee of the ASME’s Dynamic Systems and Control Division, and as an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurements and Control.