Toward Autonomous Miniature Rotorcrafts in Cluttered Environments for Scene Understanding

Description: Miniature rotorcrafts, such as the Quadrotor aerial vehicles, are emerging as a popular platform for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research due to their structural simplicity and small form factor, their ability to carry relatively large payload, and their VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capability and high maneuverability. They have been used in many military and civilian applications, such as data and image acquisition of targets and affected areas, target localization and tracking, map building, deployment of instrumentation, terrain and utilities inspection, disaster monitoring, environmental surveillance, search and rescue, law enforcement, aerial mapping, traffic surveillance, and cinematography. The objectives of this project are to 1) develop control and navigation algorithms for small scale rotorcrafts to autonomously explore cluttered and obstacle-dense environments via multi-modal sensing; 2) develop innovative approaches for target detection and 3D scene understanding using spatiotemporal image analysis; 3) develop a miniature rotorcraft experimental platform to test and verify the proposed methods.

Sponsor: This project is supported by Army Research Office under Grant No. W911NF0910565

PI: Jizhong Xiao, Co-PI: Yingli Tian

The CityFlyer project is currently built on a modified Ascending Technologies Pelican Quadrotor Helicopter. It is currently being developed to perform research on techniques for 3D mapping and navigation.


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Refer to our ROS repository for open-source code related to this project.


  • Ivan Dryanovski, William Morris,Jizhong Xiao, "An Open-Source Pose Estimation System for Micro-Air Vehicles" submitted to ICRA2011.
  • William Morris, Ivan Dryanovski and Jizhong Xiao, “3D Indoor Mapping for Micro-UAVs Using Hybrid Range Finders and Multi-Volume Occupancy Grids”, the workshop on RGB-D: Advanced Reasoning with Depth Cameras, on June 27, 2010, in conjunction with 2010 Robotics: Science and Systems Conference (RSS’2010), held at the Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain June 27~30, 2010.
  • Ivan Dryanovski, William Morris,Jizhong Xiao, “Multi-Volume Occupancy Grids: an Efficient Probabilistic 3D Mapping Model for Micro Aerial Vehicles”, 2010 IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS2010).