Design of an Autonomous Platform for a Search and Rescue UAV Network

MQP Team:

  • Catherine Coleman
  • Joseph Funk
  • James Salvati
  • Christopher Whipple  


  • Taskin Padir
  • Alex Wyglinski        

In this project, we design and implement a platform for use in a system of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of human assisted-autonomous and fully autonomous flight for search and rescue applications, to improve the speed, efficiency and safety of search and rescue to benefit both the victims and the rescuers alike. This system also alleviates the need for large teams of rescuers to divide up to search vast areas of land were a stranded victim could be. To accomplish this, the system was designed to incorporate light, long endurance UAVs, equipped with specialized search and rescue sensors to aid humans in the search for lost hikers in mountainous areas. The ability to search from the area, without putting additional humans at risk is invaluable for search and rescue. All UAVs in the system utilize the paparazzi autopilot system, which is an open source, Linux based autopilot package for flight stability and autonomous control. The system was engineered to follow a centralized command structure, revolving around a specially outfitted UAV, the   mothership. The mothership communicates with the other UAVs, communicating supervisory tasks and coordinating the efforts of the UAVs to be as efficient as possible. The mothership also communicates with the ground station, where rescuers on the ground can relay commands to the network, and vital              information can be passed down from the UAVs. To date, the system is comprised of a mothership which has flown under RC control, as well as a drone model which has flown under assisted autopilot. Learn more...

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