AEM 5333 -- New Course

Wed Jan 25 13:36:11 2012

Approvals Received:
on 01-25-12
by Thomas Shield
Approvals Pending: College/Dean  > Catalog
Effective Status: Active
Effective Term: 1123 - Spring 2012
Course: AEM 5333
UMNTC - Twin Cities
UMNTC - Twin Cities
Career: UGRD
College: TIOT - College of Science and Engineering
Department: 11090 - Aerospace Eng & Mechanics
Course Title Short: Design-to-Flight: UAVs
Course Title Long: Design-to-Flight: Small Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles
Max-Min Credits
for Course:
3.0 to 3.0 credit(s)
Designing, assembling, modeling, simulating, testing and flying of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles. Rapid prototyping software tools for vehicle modeling.  Guidance, navigation, and flight control, real-time implementations, hardware-in-the-loop simulations and flight tests.
Print in Catalog?: Yes
CCE Catalog
<no text provided>
Grading Basis: A-F only
Topics Course: No
Honors Course: No
Delivery Mode(s): Classroom
Contact Hours:
3.0 hours per week
Years most
frequently offered:
Other frequency
Term(s) most
frequently offered:
Component 1: LEC (no final exam)
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
3.0 credit(s)
Financial Aid
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
3.0 credit(s)
Repetition of
Repetition not allowed.
for Catalog:
[4202, 4303W, 4601] or equivs with instructor consent
No course equivalencies
No required consent
(course-based or
000370 - CSE upper div or grad student
Editor Comments: <no text provided>
Proposal Changes: <no text provided>
History Information: <no text provided>
Sponsor Name:
Gary Balas
Sponsor E-mail Address:
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes: * Student in the course:

- Can identify, define, and solve problems

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

Students are asked to design and implement a UAV.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

They are graded on the success of their design and their methods used to analyze and implement the design.

Liberal Education
this course fulfills:
Other requirement
this course fulfills:
Criteria for
Core Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed core requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or method.

Core courses must meet the following requirements:

  • They explicitly help students understand what liberal education is, how the content and the substance of this course enhance a liberal education, and what this means for them as students and as citizens.
  • They employ teaching and learning strategies that engage students with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it.
  • They include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing as appropriate to the discipline to help students learn and reflect on their learning.
  • They do not (except in rare and clearly justified cases) have prerequisites beyond the University's entrance requirements.
  • They are offered on a regular schedule.
  • They are taught by regular faculty or under exceptional circumstances by instructors on continuing appointments. Departments proposing instructors other than regular faculty must provide documentation of how such instructors will be trained and supervised to ensure consistency and continuity in courses.

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Criteria for
Theme Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed theme requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or methods.

Theme courses have the common goal of cultivating in students a number of habits of mind:
  • thinking ethically about important challenges facing our society and world;
  • reflecting on the shared sense of responsibility required to build and maintain community;
  • connecting knowledge and practice;
  • fostering a stronger sense of our roles as historical agents.

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Writing Intensive
Propose this course
as Writing Intensive
Question 1 (see CWB Requirement 1): How do writing assignments and writing instruction further the learning objectives of this course and how is writing integrated into the course? Note that the syllabus must reflect the critical role that writing plays in the course.

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Question 2 (see CWB Requirement 2): What types of writing (e.g., research papers, problem sets, presentations, technical documents, lab reports, essays, journaling etc.) will be assigned? Explain how these assignments meet the requirement that writing be a significant part of the course work, including details about multi-authored assignments, if any. Include the required length for each writing assignment and demonstrate how the minimum word count (or its equivalent) for finished writing will be met.

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Question 3 (see CWB Requirement 3): How will students' final course grade depend on their writing performance? What percentage of the course grade will depend on the quality and level of the student's writing compared to the percentage of the grade that depends on the course content? Note that this information must also be on the syllabus.

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Question 4 (see CWB Requirement 4): Indicate which assignment(s) students will be required to revise and resubmit after feedback from the instructor. Indicate who will be providing the feedback. Include an example of the assignment instructions you are likely to use for this assignment or assignments.

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Question 5 (see CWB Requirement 5): What types of writing instruction will be experienced by students? How much class time will be devoted to explicit writing instruction and at what points in the semester? What types of writing support and resources will be provided to students?

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Question 6 (see CWB Requirement 6): If teaching assistants will participate in writing assessment and writing instruction, explain how will they be trained (e.g. in how to review, grade and respond to student writing) and how will they be supervised. If the course is taught in multiple sections with multiple faculty (e.g. a capstone directed studies course), explain how every faculty mentor will ensure that their students will receive a writing intensive experience.

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Course Syllabus
Course Syllabus: For new courses and courses in which changes in content and/or description and/or credits are proposed, please provide a syllabus that includes the following information: course goals and description; format;structure of the course (proposed number of instructor contact hours per week, student workload effort per week, etc.); topics to be covered; scope and nature of assigned readings (text, authors, frequency, amount per week); required course assignments; nature of any student projects; and how students will be evaluated. The University "Syllabi Policy" can be found here

The University policy on credits is found under Section 4A of "Standards for Semester Conversion" found here. Course syllabus information will be retained in this system until new syllabus information is entered with the next major course modification. This course syllabus information may not correspond to the course as offered in a particular semester.

(Please limit text to about 12 pages. Text copied and pasted from other sources will not retain formatting and special characters might not copy properly.)

AEM 5333:  Design-to-Flight: Small Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles

Description: Designing, assembling, modeling, simulating, testing and flying of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles. Rapid prototyping software tools for vehicle modeling.  Guidance, navigation, and flight control, real-time implementations, hardware-in-the-loop simulations and flight tests.

Credits: 3 credits, A-F only

Prerequisites:  AEM 4601 Instrumentation Lab, AEM 4202 Aerodynamics, and AEM 4303W Flight Dynamics and Control.  

Instructor: Gary J. Balas

⿢        M.V. Cook, Flight Dynamics Principles, Second Edition, Elsevier Ltd., Oxford, UK 2007
⿢        B.L. Stevens and F.L. Lewis, Aircraft Control and Simulation, John Wiley & Sons, 1992, ISBN 0-471-61397-5
⿢        Matlab and Simulink User⿿s Guides


Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are defined as aircraft which fly without a human operator onboard. In recent years, there has been significant interest in the design and operation of small UAVs. It is important that the engineering workforce understands all aspects of UAV design and operation. Training this workforce requires rethinking of how aerospace engineers are educated since small UAVs are not simply miniaturized versions of large aircraft.  Similarly, the design cycle for small UAVs will likely be in terms of month instead of years. Therefore rapid prototyping software tools are necessary to both improve and speed up the design, testing, and real-time implementation.

Course Description

The course is concerned with the design, building, modeling, simulation, testing and flying of UAVs. This semester the focus is on the use of rapid prototyping software tools for vehicle modeling, guidance, navigation, and flight control, real-time implementation, hardware-in-the-loop simulation and flight tests.

The prerequisites for the course will be AEM 2301 Mechanics of Flight, AEM 4601 Instrumentation Lab, AEM 4202 Aerodynamics, and AEM 4303W Flight Dynamics and Control.  

Students will get hands-on experience of the entire UAV design cycle. Students will be assigned to groups. Each person in a group will learn one or more of the following skills:
1.        Translate mission level specifications and requirements into vehicle level sizing, performance, reliability, and safety specifications.
2.        System level design requirements for UAV systems, system architectures and cost tradeoffs.
3.        Select actuators, sensors, communication systems, microcontrollers, and real-time computers to meet system level specifications.
4.        Develop equations of motion for small UAVs from first principles and system identification techniques.
5.        Develop linear and nonlinear models of a small UAV from the equations of motion and simulate their response to control inputs and disturbances.
6.        Analyze the stability and control characteristics of the aircraft.
7.        Use open-loop flight test data to identify and validate the UAV model based on first principles modeling.
8.        Design flight control laws using feedback to achieve desire dynamic characteristics of the vehicle.
9.        Implement and test feedback control algorithms in linear and nonlinear UAV simulation models.
10.        Generate vehicle state information using Kalman filtering. An overview of Kalman filtering, GPS, inertial measurement units (IMUs), aircraft navigation and guidance will be provided.    
11.        Integrate guidance and navigation algorithms into the nonlinear UAV simulation.
12.        Implement guidance, navigation and feedback control algorithms in real-time and verify that they execute properly in software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop simulations.
13.        Perform closed-loop flight tests with real-time implementation of guidance, navigation and feedback control algorithms.
14.        Compare closed-loop experimental flight test data with simulation data.
15.        Redesign and flight test of flight control laws.

The course objective is for students to design, simulate, test and fly inner and outer-loop flight control laws for the candidate UAV. The control algorithms will be updated and redesigned based on software-in-the-loop, hardware-in-the-loop and flight tests. Students will work in groups of 5 or 6 to accomplish these objectives.

The course will not follow any of the texts directly and may vary from the syllabus depending on the level of the students. The homework and reports will require the students access to a computer account to use Matlab,  Simulink, Control System Toolbox, Aerospace Blockset and Simulink Real-Time Workshop software products.

The course website is It contains course announcements, syllabus, homework and solutions, design project information and lecture notes.

Student Responsibilities

The course will meet in one group for lectures every Monday and Wednesday. Regular attendance at lectures is strongly recommended. You are responsible for any course material, schedule changes, announcements, etc. discussed in class.

Scholastic Conduct

University and IT policies on scholastic conduct can be found on the web at These policies will be strictly enforced.


The class is design for students to work in groups on the UAV projects. Homework will be assigned and account for 30% of the final grade.  Homework will be collected and part of them graded. The homework assignments will state if they are to be done individually or as a group. For group homeworks, all the group members will receive the same grade. All lectures will be based on the assumption that you have completed the homework. The midterm report will account for 20%, the final report 30% of the grade and 20% of an individual⿿s grade will be assessed by their group. The cumulative score will be calculated, and grades will be assigned according to a scheme such as the following:

Score           Grade
90--100         A
80--89         B
70--79         C
60--69         D
below 60         F

I reserve the right to change the criteria to reflect the overall performance of the class.

Course Outline

The following topics will be covered in this course: mission level requirements and specifications; vehicle specifications derived from mission requirements; linear and nonlinear simulation UAV model development in Simulink including wind gust modeling; simulation, trim, linearization of UAV model; extract linear models from flight test data; design, implementation and testing of longitudinal and lateral-directional axis flight controllers in a nonlinear simulation model; introduction to navigation and guidance algorithms; integration of navigation and guidance algorithm modules into nonlinear UAV simulation; generation of real-time  control,  navigation and guidance algorithms for integration into flight control computer; testing and validation of real-time algorithms in hardware-in-the-loop setup; real-tume systems, validation of flight test data, algorithms and models.

Week        Topics
1.        Overview of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their potential uses; UAV mission requirements and specifications for design project; Derivation of vehicle and component level requirements. Selection of candidate UAV radio/controlled plane.
2.        System level architecture description for UAV; definition of interfaces between components; basic overview of sensors and actuators, on-board computers. Overview of avionic systems. Digital/analog I/O, PWM signals, RS-232, Universal Serial Bus (USB), Ethernet, CAN Bus, CPU architectures, real-time operating systems, and communication.
3.        Overview of the Ultrastick radio controlled aircraft. First principles modeling of a fixed wing aircraft. Derivation of longitudinal and lateral-directional transfer function models of candidate aircraft. MATLAB/Simulink refresher.
4.        Modeling in Simulink. Development of Simulink linear aircraft models. Modeling of individual vehicle components (i.e. actuators, sensors, sample rate, filters, winds, commands, etc.). Implementation of component interface with radio-control box in Simulink. Testing and refinement of aircraft models based on flight data. Discuss how Simulink operates, Simulink blocks, masks, configurable subsystems, library blocks, inports, outports, sinks, sources, and signal flow.   
5.        Identification of aircraft aerodynamic coefficient s from flight tests. Flight test Ultrastick radio controlled aircraft. Extract nonparametric linear frequency response models of the UAV from flight test data and identify parametric 1st and 2nd order transfer function models with time-delays from frequency response data. (Maybe delayed based on weather.)
6.        Inner and outer-loop flight control design for fixed wing aircraft.
7.        Analysis and design of flight controllers for Ultrastick aircraft longitudinal and lateral-directional axes.
8.        Simulink nonlinear aircraft model development based on equations of motion, wind tunnel data and flight data. Simulation, trim, linearization of nonlinear UAV model. Introduce the notion of model uncertainty, ranges of parameters, and the use of Monte Carlo simulations to validate designs. Implement and test flight control laws in linear and nonlinear Simulink aircraft equations of motion. Compare responses with flight test data.
9.        Introduce navigation and guidance equations and avionic systems.
10.        Integrate C subroutines into Simulink using S-functions. Integrate supplied guidance and navigation subroutines, developed in C, into nonlinear UAV Simulink model. Define trajectories and input sequences for flight tests. Test simulations. Discuss generation of real-time software using C subroutines and Simulink Real-time Workshop. Implement and test in software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop simulation control, guidance and navigation algorithms.
a.        Discussion of issues associated with hand coding versus use auto-code for real-time implementation of algorithms.
11.        Validate and verify (V&V) hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) results meet vehicle and mission level specifications through Monte Carlo and worst-case simulation.  
12.        Flight test of complete UAV system; Verify and validate flight test results.
a.        Relate flight test results to HIL and simulation results.  V&V typically consists of many Monte Carlo simulations results which verify the performance requirements are satisfied.  Then a small number of flight tests are used to not only show that performance requirements are satisfied but also to confirm that the HIL and simulation models are accurate.
13.        Redesign flight control algorithms, filters, trajectories, waypoints, etc.
14.        Flight test redesigned algorithms and compare with simulation.
15.        Compare flight test results of original and redesigned controller. Lessons learned.

Required Background

The prerequisites course for aerospace students are AEM 2301 Mechanics of Flight, AEM 4601 Instrumentation Lab, AEM 4202 Aerodynamics, AEM 4303W Flight Dynamics and Control. For  electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or computer science students, courses in dynamic system modeling, controls, programming and real-time systems are required.   Students who have taken the prerequisites are assumed to be to program in C, MATLAB and Simulink, and are familiar with serial communication, sampling, acquiring data using an A/D convertor and generating output data using D/A conversion.  

Hardware and Software Requirements

MATLAB/Simulink will be the main software environment for the course. Students will also be required to develop programs in C and integrate those subroutines into the MATLAB/Simulink environment. The University of Minnesota has a number of MATLAB/Simulink toolboxes (see Two UAV simulation stations will available for the two groups to implement and test their algorithms. It is expected that students have access to Matlab/Simulink and will be able to design and test their controllers both on their own or IT labs computers and the UAV simulation stations.

The students will work with an Ultra Stick radio controlled airplane.. The avionics hardware will include a microNAV sensor from Crossbow (Note that this may need to be replaced since Crossbow stopped manufacturing this sensor earlier this year), Phytec MPC-5200 microcontroller, PWM actuators for the surfaces, radio-modem, real-time data-logger, r/c planes with batteries, engine, radio, speed controller, etc.

Instructor Conflict of Interest

    I have been asked by the University Conflict of Interest Program to disclose to your my outside consulting activities. The following statement describing my activities:

⿢        Dr. Balas has a financial and business interest in MUSYN Inc. the company that developed the Matlab Robust Control Toolbox software package, which is licensed to Mathworks.

Strategic Objectives & Consultation
Name of Department Chair
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Strategic Objectives -
Curricular Objectives:
How does adding this course improve the overall curricular objectives ofthe unit?

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Strategic Objectives - Core
Does the unit consider this course to be part of its core curriculum?

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Strategic Objectives -
Consultation with Other
In order to prevent course overlap and to inform other departments of new curriculum, circulate proposal to chairs in relevant units and follow-up with direct consultation. Please summarize response from units consulted and include correspondence. By consultation with other units, the information about a new course is more widely disseminated and can have a positive impact on enrollments. The consultation can be as simple as an email to the department chair informing them of the course and asking for any feedback from the faculty.

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