Deciding to land a UAV safely in real time

Jonathan Sprinkle, J. Mikael Eklund, S. Shankar Sastry

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The difficulty of autonomous free-flight of a fixed-wing UAV is trivial when compared to that of takeoff and landing. There is an even more marked difference when deciding whether or not a UAV can capture or recapture a certain trajectory, since the answer depends on the operating ranges of the aircraft. A common example of requiring this calculation, from a military perspective, is the determination of whether or not an aircraft can capture a landing trajectory (i.e., glideslope) from a certain initial state (velocity, position, etc.). As state dimensions increase, the time to calculate the decision grows exponentially. This paper describes how we can make this decision at flight time, and guarantee that the decision will give a safe answer before the state changes enough to invalidate the decision. We also describe how the computations should be formulated, and how the partitioning of the state-space can be done to reduce the computation time required. Flight testing was performed with our design, and results are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3506-3511
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the American Control Conference
StatePublished - 2005
Event2005 American Control Conference, ACC - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 8 2005Jun 10 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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