Avigator (ay-vee-gait-er)

"Learning to Fly"

Avigator Avigator


Avigator is an attempt to develop an autonomous airplane by applying human skill modeling techniques to a small radio-controlled airplane. The important result of this program will not be the actual flying behaviors which we will demonstrate, but rather we intend to show that human skill modeling is a viable alternative to more complicated and traditional control system techniques. We believe that the application of human skill modeling will simplify the development of basic autonomous behaviors for aerial platforms. We also believe that these techniques will enable the successful development of more complex behaviors than are achievable with traditional methods.

In the initial program, we are attempting to train simple behaviors which will enable the airplane to fly a simple pattern (e.g., oval, figure-eight) autonomously. We are attempting to do this at a target materials cost of $1500. Once we have achieved this level of autonomy, we intend to add more sophisticated sensor and computer systems to the airplane, in order to learn more complicated behaviors such as landing and takeoff.

At this point, we have completed development of the platform and the electronics necessary to accomplish the initial autonomous flight. We have taken a few hours of data with a human pilot. We have trained a model for the behavior of flying straight and level which predicts the human pilot's future control actions with <1% RMS error. Within the next few days we will conduct a field test of this control model, allowing the computer to fly the airplane for the first time.


12/2 A complete reworking of the microcontroller hardware and software is complete, and allows us to move on to the autonomy stages and beyond more easily. We expect to attempt autonomous flight in the next few days.

Previous Status Reports

Up Next...

Collection of data with new hardware.
Preprocess and train on new data.
Attempt autonomous straight-and-level flight.
Start working on turns...

Future Work

Rework accerometer-tilt sensor to filter out vibration.
Figure out how to mount hard drive to reduce vibration.
Develop altimeters and airspeed sensor.
Develop software to "replay" flight data visually.

More Information


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Revised 12/4/99