Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 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.  One particular area of interest is indoor UAVs with applications such as emergency response in buildings or telehealth services inside people’s homes. Operation of drones in indoor environment is particularly challenging due to several reasons including loss of access to GPS information, and proximity with obstacles and humans. For safe operation of UAVs in indoor environment, some level of autonomy is needed to allow UAVs to avoid collisions and carry out basic maneuvers without any assistance from humans. Incorporating autonomy in drones operating in indoor environment is often challenging due to the fact that positional feedback from GPS is intermittent or unavailable. The UAV needs to solve the problem of localization, i.e., finding  its position and orientation using onboard sensors such as vision, laser, or other proximity sensor such as ultrasound sensors, via a process called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). Furthermore, the UAV should be able to use its positional estimate to perform navigation in a precise manner to enable safe operation. The objective of this project is to develop hardware and software means to carry out the process of SLAM and autonomous navigation of UAVs in indoor environments. To alleviate the safety issue arising due to operating close to humans, a prototype is being developed that can be remotely controlled via cellular network. This prototype will have inbuilt intelligence for obstacle avoidance, autonomous landing, communication delay, and lost communication. Apart from the hardware and software components, the project would involve carrying out flight tests in indoor and outdoor environments.

Patient using telehealth

Telehealth application of indoor drone


A prototype of indoor drone built at CDS Lab


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.