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CARRE Fall Seminar Series - Professor Eric Johnson

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Guidance, Navigation, and Control Research for Unmanned Aircraft:  Past, Present and Predicted


The evolution of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over the most recent 20 years has seen an impressive rate of innovation.  The time between a new technology first appearing in academia and being available in a consumer product can be very short compared to typical aerospace applications.  Throughout this period, the navigation, guidance, and control challenges in UAS have been among the most significant barriers to wider use.  That remains true today.  This talk will reflect upon past work at Draper and Georgia Tech, and lessons learned about which technologies have “made it” and perhaps why.  Specific highlights include one of the first small GPS-navigated helicopters, fault-tolerant control results, and the automatic transition of an airplane to/from tail-sitting hover.  Later work includes sensing and avoiding other aircraft and obstacles, navigation without reliance on Global Positioning Satellite systems (GPS), and multi-aircraft cooperative autonomy.  This will include progress in both theory and related flight test validation.  The talk will conclude with some speculation about the next “wave” of UAS guidance, navigation, and control theory and technology that will be significant – and perhaps where academic research can best contribute.


Lockheed Martin Professor of Avionics Integration
School of Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology