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Current Research Projects

Enabling Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) to use Tools in Complex Dynamic Environments


This project is led by the University of Canterbury, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Karl Stol, Bruce MacDonald, Peter Xu, Nicholas Kay, Pedro Mendes, Salim Al-zubaidi, Junyi Chen, Caleb Probine, David Yang, Joshua Taylor, Matthew Edwards, Josiah Melendrez

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones) are revolutionising surveying and inspection tasks which once required manned aircraft, and are becoming a standard tool for a wide range of applications. However, one glaring omission is the ability to accurately use tools to perform precision tasks in high and hard-to-reach locations. 

This research will design, build and demonstrate a compact UAV with precise six degrees-of-freedom positioning capability enabled by new control methods, airframe designs, aerodynamic models, and position estimation (visual odometry) in dynamically changing (windy) environments.

Rotor Configuration and Control of High Precision Drones


PhD Research

Salim Al-zubaidi. Supervisors: Karl Stol & Peter Xu

With the rise of the UAV use in interaction, the ability of the UAV to change the contact force instantaneously and the control of all axes independently became important aspect of the UAV performance. 


This research aims to present a new UAV configuration with the potential for improved horizontal agility. An optimisation process is developed to maximise the horizontal bandwidth. A control algorithm will be developed to make use of the improved capabilities of the UAV.

H-Infinity Controller Testing for Wind Disturbance Rejection of a Homogeneous Octorotor UAV

ME Research

Junyi Chen. Supervisor: Karl Stol

Stable station keeping performance of UAVs is an area of interest for many close-to-environment applications, particularly when interaction between the UAV and its environment is involved. Conventional underactuated quadrotor UAVs have been found to be incapable of the stability required for these applications due to their inherently coupled dynamics. As such, alternative physical designs and control techniques must be considered.

A position controller designed through H-infinity methods has been found to be robust to external disturbances and able to take advantage of the over-actuated capabilities of drones designed with a fixed rotor cant angle. The intent of this research is to validate the performance of a controller designed through H-Infinity methods on a canted-rotor octo-rotor UAV in various wind conditions.


Photo J.Bannwarth

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