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Autonomous 19 km Medicine Delivery in Malawi Conducted by USL & Malawi University

December 4, 2017–A flying wing designed at the USL was flown in a 19 km fully autonomous medicine delivery mission in Malawi. Students from Malawi University took part in building and flying the aircraft, called EcoSoar, which was designed to be fabricated and operated locally in Malawi for remote medicine delivery and remote sensing purposes. Graduate student Zach Standridge and undegraduate student James Donnelly, both working in the USL, were there to teach students how to build and fly the aircraft.
Malawi medicine delivery

Virginia Tech engineers team with Malawi university to set drone records

December 4, 2017–Drone delivery moved one step closer to reality in sub-Saharan Africa after Virginia Tech and Malawian teams conducted tests at the UNICEF drone testing corridor in Kasungu, Malawi. The aircraft were built by a team of Malawian students from the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) under the supervision of graduate students Zack Standridge in aerospace engineering and James Donnelly of mechanical engineering, and USL director Kevin Kochersberger.

Read more here.

Malawi drone records

P.U.N.C.H. Competition

Jun 14, 2017–In a Beta version of a new competition, Virginia Tech won a head-to- head competition against Rowan University of New Jersey in a precision aerial package delivery event held in Blacksburg. The goal of the event, called PUNCH, for Precision Unmanned Navigation and Cargo Handling, was to autonomously deliver packages to specified targets on a field. Points were awarded based on delivery speed, weight delivered, and accuracy. Check out the video.
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Thesis defense by Pooja Harekoppa

July 21, 2016 — Pooja Harekoppa successfully defended her Masters thesis: “Application of Computer Vision Techniques for Railroad Inspection using UAVs”.

Thesis defense by Danny Whitehurst

July 12, 2016 — Danny Whitehurst successfully defended his Masters thesis: “Techniques for Processing Airborne Imagery for Multimodal Crop Health Monitoring and Early Bug Detection.”

Thesis defense by Evan Smith

May 24, 2016 — Evan Smith successfully defended his Masters thesis: “A Collection of Computer Vision Algorithms Capable of Detecting Linear Infrastructure for the Purpose of UAV Control”.

W.S. “Pete” White Award awarded to Dr. Kevin Kochersberger

May 11, 2016 — W.S. “Pete” White Award in Engineering Education was awarded to Kevin Kochersberger!

CASE Senior Tree

December 7, 2015 — The Unmanned Systems Laboratory participated in the CASE Senior Tree to put together a Christmas basket for a senior. Thanks to everyone that participated!



Senior tree

Powered Parachute Flight for LAICE project

September 13, 2014 — The Unmanned Systems Laboratory assisted Professor Gregory Earle on a project called LAICE, which aims to measure wave activity in low earth orbit created by thunderstorms and convective weather systems on the ground. The powered parachute was flown by the lab as a proxy model for the LAICE satellite to verify that the correct packets were received by the ground station.

Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe visits Virginia Tech

August 13, 2014 — The FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Virginia Governor Terry McAullife visited the Virginia Smart Road in Blacksburg, VA to watch a simulation of police using a UAV to survey the damage of a mock crash scene. This was part of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program. Check out the video below.

USL Looking at Farm Use for UAVs

February 21, 2014 — The Unmanned Systems Laboratory is working with farmers to develop crop health monitoring systems. Read the full story here: Farming From The SKY: New Applications For Drones (WHSV News)

Tobacco Farm Flight (South Hill, VA)

September 14, 2013 — The Unmanned Systems Laboratory conducted a flight at R. Hart Hudson Farm, South Hill, VA to image tobacco plants using an NIR camera. This allowed for the automatic identification of highly stressed crops, and the ability to segment bleached tobacco leaves from green leaves. Check out the video to see the RMAX in action!

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Ground Robot Deployment and Tension Control

April 26, 2011 — One of the Unmanned System’s Laboratory’s most recent flights demonstrated, for the first time, deployment of a robotic ground vehicle which has been under development at the lab. The robot is paired with a helicopter-mounted winch system, which raises and lowers the robot and provides emergency release functionality. Watch the video for details (available in HD)!

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Stereovision Data Collection Flight

April 14, 2011 — Today’s brilliantly sunny April weather gave the USL the perfect opportunity to conduct a stereovision test flight. During this flight, at the Kentland Farms location outside of Blacksburg, the stereo boom system (two cameras and an IMU) gathered data and took a series of pictures for 3D reconstruction back at the lab. Check out the video to see the flight and results (available in HD).

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Virginia Could Become a Testing Area for Civilian Use

By Richard Foster | Fri Aug 31, 2012 06:00 AM ET

“The public historically has been a little timid about new technology — airplanes, fast cars, whatever, you know?” says Kevin Kochersberger, director of the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. “It’s human nature to be a little skeptical of technology, but there are many upsides to this technology that people aren’t seeing.”

Engineering team developing helicopter that would investigate nuclear disasters

By Steven Mackay

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 10, 2010 — Students at Virginia Tech’s Unmanned Systems Laboratory are perfecting an autonomous helicopter they hope will never be used for its intended purpose. Roughly six feet long and weighing 200 pounds, the re-engineered aircraft is designed to fly into American cities blasted by a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb. Full story