Fundamentals of Drones: UAV Concepts, Designs and Technologies (2-Days) 4 January - 5 January 2020 Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida

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Registration Options:

  • Early Member Rate (until 16 December): $549
  • Standard Member Rate: $649
  • Conference Rate: $749

  • Course Hours:
    0800–1700 hrs


    This new and comprehensive 2-day course introduces the concepts, design, and technologies of fixed-wing and multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or commonly known as Drones. The course balances science and theory with practical applications in the military and civilian sectors.  Focus will be on both fixed-wing aircraft and the recently popularized multi-rotor vehicles.

    What is unique about this course is the broad coverage of flying within its planned environment, the design and analysis of an unmanned vehicle, and its nominal operations, starting with take-off through flight and eventually ending with a successful landing.  We discuss the differences between a model aircraft used by hobbyist, official drones, and other retrofitted aircraft from manual to automated operations.  We walk through the history of drones, and the role of the operator in relationship to control and the impact of artificial intelligence, i.e. evolving to supervisory and autonomous control.  There will be an introductory analysis of aircraft range using the Breguet equations, endurance, thrust, lift, drag, Reynolds Number, the use of waypoints, and the effects of gravity.  Design analysis also includes different types of propulsion systems, fuselages, pods, wings, and tails/no tails if we are designing a new drone from scratch.  To operate a drone, we investigate the aerodynamic effectiveness of its control surfaces such as the incorporation of rudders, elevators, and ailerons for lateral and longitudinal stability.  We conclude Day 1 with a discussion on aircraft control, and the required inputs needed for the autopilot to fly the platform.

    Day 2 begins with rotorcraft drones, first understanding rotor aerodynamics, including the velocity components of a rotating blade. We use the flapping equations of motion for both a quadcopter and a helicopter with a swash plate.  The result is a rotary flight controller based on the Tip-Path-Plane equation in order to understand forces, moments, and the notion of torque cancellation.  Small quadcopter control relies on rigid body transformations, homogeneous transformations, Euler angles, and angular velocities (all prevalent in robotics).  This analysis results in a state space model of a simplified vehicle using a nested control structure.  For the various drone applications, we also investigate the many mission payload sensors utilized today such as EO/IR, SAR, FLIR, Lidar, etc.  We complete the Unmanned Aerial System with the Ground Control Station, focusing on various displays, ergonomics, and human factor requirements such as the impact of multiple factors, i.e. retaining human “attention” to inclusion of clumsy automation.  (The major issue here is how to replicate operator functions onboard or on the ground, compensating for time delays due to latencies.)  We end the course with insight into some miscellaneous technologies such as artificial intelligence w.r.t. drones (Moore’s Law, autonomy and machine learning) and a swarm of drones (collaborative and cooperative teaming), along with other important programmatic issues to include robot ethics, aircraft security, the regulatory issues associated with the NAS, and the socio-economic impact of the technologies.  The ultimate goal for this class is to build a common understanding of the topic, reinforcing ideas and answering any remaining questions that persist. The extensive course notes will be a definitive guide on this special topic and will serve as an outstanding reference for future use.

    Who Should Attend  

    This course is designed for engineers and managers – of diverse background and varying levels of experience – who are involved in analyzing, planning, designing, building, launching, and operating drone systems of all types. The course can either facilitate a basic understanding for engineers and managers that are new to the field of unmanned aerial vehicles, or to reinforce one’s comfort level with this subject.  

    AIAA CEUs are available for this course.


    Please contact Jason Cole if you have any questions about courses and workshops at AIAA forums.

    1. Organization & Scope of the Course
    2. Introduction to Drones
    3. Physics of Flight
    4. Concept of Operations
    5. Fixed-Wing Design
    6. Drone Aircraft Performance
    7. Fixed-Wing Autopilot and Controls
    8. Rotorcraft Drones
    9. Quadcopter Kinematics and Control
    10. Drone Payloads
    11. Ground Control Station Design
    12. Open Issues
      1. Artificial Intelligence
      2. Swarms
      3. Robot Ethics
      4. Security Concerns
      5. Regulatory Issues
      6. Socio-Economics

    Course notes will be made available a few days prior to the course event. You will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to access your course notes. Since course notes will not be distributed on site, AIAA and your course instructor highly recommend that you bring your computer with the course notes already downloaded to the course. 


    Wendell Chun is Adjunct Professor of Robotics and Systems Engineering at the University of Denver, and concurrently a lecturer/Research Professor at the University of Colorado Denver in Design and Controls. He is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in robotics, mobile robots, autonomy, and artificial intelligence. He has 33 years of hands-on experience in industry at Lockheed Martin where he was the principal investigator of various robotic R&D programs that featured self-driving cars, teams of robots, polymorphic robots, and specialized drone designs that focused on the leading edge of technology.  He is a technical advisor to different branches of the US government such as NASA and the Dept. of Energy, as well as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and a SME for DARPA.