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Stanford Aeronautics Classmates Build Their Own Drones
in a 10-week class at Stanford University's School
of Engineering build a
drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), then compete with one another
perfect opportunity to not only learn the nuts and bolts
behind a fast-growing
technology, but also to apply that knowledge in a real-life situation.
many students who are great at software and simulation, but they've
built anything," said Juan Alonso, an associate professor of aeronautics
astronautics at Stanford.
teaching the class way back in 2002 along with Ilan Kroo, a research
professor of aeronautics and astronautics. But the class — and the
approach the two professors bring to it — has taken on new significance
recent years as UAVs have more and more use in government and industry.
of the aircraft and the behavior of on-board sensors and
communications is quickly becoming a necessity in the aeronautics field.
class, which only last two and a half months, the 24 students are broken
into three teams that each build their own UAVs and then, in the
the course, compete with one another on a search-and-rescue mission
they’re expected to find four objects hidden in a practice field.
Three teams of Stanford students build their unmanned aerial vehicles and then used them to find four objects in an empty field in a timed competition.
it's a very appropriate exercise for anybody thinking of a career
want to use UAVs to map the coral reefs off Miami Beach, you'd better
understand how to follow accurately some pre-specified paths even in the
presence of wind gusts," he said.
are responsible for the design, fabrication and programming of the UAVs
that eventually have wingspans no larger than a pair of outstretched
our secret advantages was fabrication," said Ian Villa, who is working
master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics.
the Red Team, redesigned their fuselage-wing combination to improve
aerodynamics, get better wind speed readings and increase the available
to carry all their electronics.
of the competition was to find the four objects with the UAVs that had
battery-powered propellers and could fly no higher than 400 feet over an
field. The winner of the contest — which did turn out to be the Red Team
to find the four objects in the shortest amount of time.
bit of a gamble, the competing Blue Team built their UAV without a
making it look like a wide "V." However, that also made it tougher to
in the wind, costing it valuable time. The Yellow Team had its own
well: Early in the protoyping stage, their plane's onboard controller
it took team members time to realize they'd asked its tiny memory buffer