University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The UAV Research Group in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) at the University of Minnesota is focused on development and implementation of a low-cost, open source small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight research facility. The goal of this facility is to support research activities within the department including control, navigation and guidance algorithms, embedded fault detection methods, and system identification tools.

Avionics and Sensors: The avionics are centered around a MPC5200B flight computer and IMU/GPS/air data sensor suite.

Airframes and RC Components: The Ultra Stick family of aircraft powered by electric motors and 2.4GHz radios offers a simple and hassle free platform.

Simulation: MATLAB/Simulink based nonlinear simulation with software and hardware-in-the-loop modes.


Flight Software: Embedded software is written in C and executed in real time via the eCos RTOS.

Ground Station: A Java-based ground station utilizes graphical displays of information telemetered from the UAV.

Downloads: Access our Subversion repository, archived flight data, videos, and current bug reports

BFF Testing and mini-MUTT Prototype Construction

Testing of the Body Freedom Flutter (BFF) aircraft is well underway with laser-scanning, mass properties tests, and ground vibration test (GVT) completed.  Be sure to visit our repository to read test reports and access data and analysis tools: BFF archive

We're also in the process of prototyping an open-source, low-cost, modular flight research infrastructure based on the BFF and X-56A aircraft that we're calling the mini-MUTT.  Keep up with our progress via our FLICKR page at: UAV Lab FLICKR Sets and while you're there be sure to check out pictures of our flight testing and other activities!

UAV Benefits Highlighted in News

Current and future benefits of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles were highlighted in a news article and interview with KARE 11 on March 12, 2013.  Full access to the video and news article can be found on their website: KARE 11: Drone Research Being Conducted at the U of M

Prior UAV research at the UMN has been used by industry partners to check control law validation software, leading to flight control systems with fewer faults.  Navigation algorithms developed in the lab are currently in use by ATI Resolution on a UAV they operate with NOAA to find tsunami debris and ghost nets.  Finally, the aircraft simulation developed by the UMN UAV lab has been used by NASA to research a new lift distribution that could lead to significantly lower drag resulting in fuel savings in future aircraft. 

Current and future research in the lab will lead to aircraft that are more fault tolerant, robust, and environmentally friendly.  The UAV Lab continues to work with state agencies to help define and explore beneficial uses of UAVs.