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The Development and Flight Testing of an Aerially Deployed Unmanned Aerial System
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An investigation into the feasibility of aerial deployed unmanned aerial vehicles was completed. The investigation included the development and flight testing of multiple unmanned aerial systems to investigate the different components of potential aerial deployment missions. The project consisted of two main objectives; the first objective dealt with the development of an airframe capable of surviving aerial deployment from a rocket and then self assembling from its stowed configuration into its flight configuration. The second objective focused on the development of an autopilot capable of performing basic guidance, navigation, and control following aerial deployment.To accomplish these two objectives multiple airframes were developed to verify their completion experimentally. The first portion of the project, investigating the feasibility of surviving an aerial deployment, was completed using a fixed wing glider that following a successful deployment had 52 seconds of controlled flight. Before developing the autopilot in the second phase of the project, the glider was significantly upgraded to fix faults discovered in the glider flight testing and to enhance the system capabilities. Unfortunately to conform to outdoor flight restrictions imposed by the university and the Federal Aviation Administration it was required to switch airframes before flight testing of the new fixed wing platform could begin. As a result, an autopilot was developed for a quadrotor and verified experimentally completely indoors to remain within the limits of governing policies.