ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 16, 2006) -- Ohio University avionics research engineers have been working on a navigation program involving small radio-controlled aircraft that may bring advantages not only to the university, but also to the nation.
Avionics Engineering Center research engineers Thomas Arthur, Kevin Johnson and Jamie Edwards plus doctoral candidate Jacob Campbell have been working on developing precise navigation systems for low-cost small uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs). Their UAV-2222 system attempts to use commercial off-the-shelf systems to develop expendable small flying vehicles for testing avionics devices such as navigation systems or communication systems on aircraft.
“Existing systems tend to be high-cost, heavy or both. The UAV-2222 is intended so that research engineers, faculty, students or external customers may develop experimental packages that can be easily installed and flown to obtain test data,” Arthur said. “A typical test of a UAV would be to fly a sensor. What we provide is the flight and accurate position information so that the data from the sensor is more useful. It helps the owner of the sensor to develop better algorithms for using the sensor.”
The research engineers are striving for a multitude of goals, including stable flight, auto-pilot control, wirelessly updated waypoints, a two-kilogram payload, a two-hour minimum flight duration and a $2,000 per aircraft cost.
Arthur also stressed the idea that the project will provide several benefits to the world at large.
“UAVs will continue to play an increasingly important role in our life as they are slowly integrated into the national airspace system,” he said. “Packages developed aboard the UAV-2222 may one day assist in clearing land mines or performing border patrol for homeland security.”
Arthur further credits the Avionics Engineering Center with the drive to develop the program, which he said has already brought benefits to the school.
“The Avionics Engineering Center at Ohio University has a national reputation for all types of avionics development. We are particularly well known for our contributions to aircraft navigation and landing systems,” he said. “The ability to rapidly prototype new ideals gives Ohio’s faculty and students a tremendous advantage when seeking external funding. Recent funding of $179,000 to develop a GPS navigation aboard UAVs is directly attributable to the existence of the UAV-2222 program.”
Avionics is a combination of aviation and electronics. It deals with systems that measure the position, altitude and control of aircraft along with other communication and sensor systems.
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