Small UAV Initiative

Small UAVs have the potential to become a disruptive technology across a broad range of applications in coming years.  Agricultural monitoring, law enforcement, search & rescue, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief are some exciting mission areas that could benefit from small UAVs.  Small UAVs offer added maneuverability and agility compared with their larger counterparts and can be deployed with a much smaller footprint.  In addition, small UAVs equipped with sensors can provide high-resolution, close-in, and even in situ sensor data.  By “parallelizing” the search or mapping mission among many small autonomous UAVs, wide area missions are feasible and scalable.

Beaver Works collaborators are conducting innovative research and development in small UAVs with new platforms and configurations, novel power sources, advanced human-machine interfaces, and miniaturized sensors.  This work will culminate in yearly demonstrations of small UAV technologies in each of several promising mission areas.

Small Autonomous System Domains


Three key missions identified that cut across several domains

Map an Area
–Disaster relief (situational awareness, ingress/egress routes, live power, forest fire hotspots)
–Agriculture (soil moisture, crop maturity)
–Indoor mapping
Search an area
–Signs of life (disaster response, search & rescue)
–Port inspection (Illicit substances, explosives, radioactive materials) 
–Humanitarian Aid (water contamination)
–Invasive / endangered species
Monitor an area
–Infrastructure inspection (pipes, power lines)
–Border  patrol
–Crowd (riots, terrorist activity)
–Weather (mobile weather stations)


Why Small Autonomous UAVs?

•Operator safety
•Cost savings (hourly rate)
•Super-human ability

–Accuracy , optimization

•In situ & high resolution sensing
•Low cost
•Robust (to partial loss of flock)
•Wide area

Proposed Demostrations

Agricultural soil moisture mapping (microwave radiometric)
Mobile device sensing (Wi-Fi, GSM, etc.) for search & rescue / disaster relief
Infrastructure monitoring (power lines, natural gas leaks, etc.)
Humanitarian aid - wide area water sampling (disease, pesticides)   Complex environment search (airport narcotics, seaport radioactivity)