UAVs Take Flight at the U.S. Naval Academy

A Tele­mas­ter be­comes a mis­sion-com­pli­ant drone

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A Tele­mas­ter be­comes a mis­sion-com­pli­ant drone

While steeped in tra­di­tion, the U.S. Naval Academy in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, is also in­volved in the 21st-cen­tury bat­tle­field’s in­creas­ing use of drones. The Academy’s Weapons and Sys­tems En­gi­neer­ing Depart­ment is now fo­cus­ing on the de­vel­op­ment, im­ple­men­ta­tion, and con­trol of un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle (UAV) sys­tems. And just like the evolv­ing bat­tle­field, the Academy’s cur­ricu­lum is also evolv­ing to match the ev­er­in­creas­ing pace of drone war­fare. One project that the depart­ment is sup­port­ing is an un­manned au­tonomous air­craft de­signed to com­pete at the As­so­ci­a­tion for Un­manned Ve­hi­cle Sys­tems In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Un­manned Aerial Sys­tems Com­pe­ti­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Mid­ship­man 1st Class Luke Red­ito, the com­pe­ti­tion is held each year at Web­ster Field near the Naval Air Sta­tion, and is in­tended to help fos­ter in­ter­est in un­manned aerial sys­tems and stim­u­late in­ter­est in this tech­nol­ogy. Each drone must be built and flown by a team of un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents and com­ply with com­pe­ti­tion pro­to­cols, in­clud­ing shar­ing of mis­sion teleme­try, au­tonomous flight op­er­a­tions, ob­sta­cle avoid­ance, ob­ject de­tec­tion and clas­si­fi­ca­tion, lo­cal­iza­tion, and air pack­age de­liv­ery. The team mem­bers are all sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing ma­jors, with the ex­cep­tion of Red­ito, who is ma­jor­ing in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence. Due to his ex­pe­ri­ence as an avid RC air­plane hob­by­ist, he was brought onto the team to serve as the air­frame lead and test pilot.

The mem­bers of the U.S. Naval Academy team in­clude Mid­ship­men 1st Class (se­niors) Con­nor Dittmar, Thomas Moore, Ti­mothy Naski, Matthew Sims, and Luke Red­ito, along with Mid­ship­men 2nd Class Daniel Jack­son and Nikola Pe­jovic.

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