Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Thomas Alberts

Committee Member

Drew Landman

Committee Member

Gene Hou


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are widely used across the industry and have a strong military application for defense. As UAVs become more accessible so does the increase of their applications, now being more limited by one’s imagination as opposed to the past where micro electric components were the limiting factor. Almost all of the applications require GPS or radio guidance. For more covert and longer range missions relying solely on GPS and radio is insufficient as the Unmanned Aerial System is vulnerable to malicious encounters like GPS Jamming and GPS Spoofing. For long range mission GPS denied environments are common where loss of signal is experienced. For autonomous flight GPS is a fundamental requirement. In this work an advanced inertial navigation system is proposed along with a programmable Pixhawk flight controller and Cube Black autopilot. A Raspberry Pi serves as a companion computer running autonomous flight missions and providing data acquisition. The advancement in inertial navigation comes from the implementation of a high end Analog Devices’ IMU providing input to an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) to reduce error associated with measurement noise. The EKF is a efficient recursive computation applying the least-squares method. UAS flight controller simulations and calibrations were conducted to ensure the expected flight capabilities were achieved. The developed software and hardware was implemented in a Quadcopter build to perform flight test. Flight test data were used to analyze the performance post flight. Later, simulated feedback of the inertial navigation based state estimates (from flight test data) is performed to ensure reliable position data during GPS denied flight. The EKF applied to perform strapdown navigation was a limited success at estimating the vehicles’ inertial states but only when tuned for the specific flight trajectory. The predicted position was successfully converted to GPS data and passed to the autopilot in a LINUX based simulations ensuring autonomous mission capability is maintainable in GPS denied environments. The results from this research can be applied with ease to any vehicle operating with a Pixhawk controller and a companion computer of the appropriate processing capability.


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