Univeridade do Minho

School of Engineering

Project AIVA














Nowadays, there is an increment in the level of requirements regarding to autonomous flying vehicles (UAVs), with advantages relative  to the classic models (such as non-autonomous aeromodelling kits commanded at distance).

The purpose of this project is the construction and automatization of a small airplane, capable to fly autonomously in vast and initially pre-defined areas, allowing various kinds of applications, such as:

  • Monitoring of forests and natural parks, including fire detection;

  • Monitoring of beaches (coastal zones) and rivers;

  • Monitoring of roads and highways, and of railway lines;
  • Monitoring of road traffic and high-voltage lines;

  • Monitoring of zones of disaster, sometimes very dangerous and  inaccessible to rescue teams;

  • Support to telecommunications and data transmission;

  • Acquisition of aerial images (for mapping of territory);

  • Various military and security applications, among others.

This is a multidisciplinary project with participation of multiple departments, congregating professors investigating in diverse areas of knowledge (from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering - Citepe R&D Center -, Industrial Electronics - Algoritmi Center -, and Textile Engineering - 2C2T -), together with a group of students of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Electronics Engineering and Computers.

Relatively to the objectives to reach, this project points, basically, to the development of an aircraft of small dimensions guided by vision that allows, in any atmospheric condition and recurring (only) to the onboard systems and processing capabilities, to perform autonomously the following missions:  

  • Execute the vehicle take off procedure;

  • Fly to a definite area following a specified path, while continuously avoiding obstacles

  • Capacity to generate a trajectory autonomously in the case of target reallocation during the flight;

  • Localization and tracking of referenced objects in the appointed area;

  • Send images to a ground station responsible for data collection, if necessary;

  • Return to the base and land in security.

The activities conducting to the objectives traced above have started in September of 2004, and some important steps in this domain have already been given. The strategies regarding to the working stages  pass for the construction of the airplane (as future UAV) as well as for the study, development and implementation of:

  • Architecture of the software (distributed deterministic network with central control and with real-time operating system);

  • Architecture of the hardware (deterministic distributed onboard wireless network, establishing communications between the following nodes: onboard communications management; air-ground-air communications management; black box; geolocation sensors; left wing; right wing; rudder, and central control);

  • Architecture of control (classic control for lateral and longitudinal control, with definition and pursuing of trajectory based on nonlinear dynamic control);

  • Artificial vision (integrating modules of navigation aid - "3D vision" - and of detection of objectos and obstacles);

  • Technical textiles for the covering of the load compartment, aiming at its isolation.