ASE/EM professor Maruthi Akella and his students performed a field test to demonstrate the autonomous flight capability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which will be used by NASA's IceBridge program to collect environmental data in the Arctic and polar regions including data on melting glaciers.

Using a small quad-copter, about the size of a commercial remote-control helicopter, and a rover on the ground, the researchers tested the aircraft's target detection and onboard path planning capabilities in realistic flight conditions. All of the core technology and flight programming capabilities demonstrated were developed at The University of Texas at Austin. This demonstration collected data, such as heading, altitude, position and angular rates.

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