Tim McLain

Brigham Young University

Department of Mechanical Engineering


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have the potential for significant impact in a broad array of military, civil, and commercial applications.  The successful use of small UAVs in recent military conflicts has been well documented and has given rise to optimism regarding their potential.  To have the impact projected in future military systems, significant improvements in small UAV capabilities will be required. The potential for commercial applications of UAVs is equally broad, but significantly less developed.  Possible applications include environmental monitoring, land management, law enforcement, and precision agriculture.


Two barriers limit the wide-spread use of UAVs in both military and civil applications:  cost and ease of use.  Current military UAVs, although much cheaper than manned aircraft, are expensive and challenging to fly.  Even a small UAV requires a team of operators to pilot it from a remote ground station.  Instead of multiple operators flying a single UAV, we envision a single operator commanding a team of UAVs to work cooperatively to achieve a mission objective.  Our goal is to create technology to enable the widespread use of smaller, more affordable, yet very capable UAVs.  This presentation will address our recent progress in the areas of path following, precision landing, obstacle avoidance, and cooperative control for UAVs.