UAVs, Navigation and Sensor Orientation

The navigation is composed of two main concepts: positioning & guidance.

  • The positioning is the determination of the position and velocity of a moving object with respect to a known reference
  • The guidance is the planning and maintenance of a course from one location (origin) to another (destination)

TOPO is active in aerial photogrammetry research, both airborne and drone based. In this context, many challenging problems arise related to sensor orientation determination, autonomous navigation, sensor fusion, design, testing and operation of micro aerial vehicles, both fixed wing and multi-rotor.

A list of currently available semester/master projects is maintained below.

Bio-inspired wind sensation for advanced autonomous drones/UAV navigation


Reliability and accuracy of navigation in flying drones are one of the key challenges that must be solved in autonomous applications. Accurate knowledge of position, attitude, and velocity is a critical input for drones operating in cluttered and challenging environments such as cities, forests or mountain terrain. The possibility of (Global Navigation Satellite System) GNSS failure due to signal obstruction or external interference can cause complete failure of a drone navigation system which would be unacceptable for any future beyond visual line of site commercial applications. Currently, at TOPO a novel navigation system being developed based on the flight dynamics. Drones can navigate through a complex environment even with the absence of GNSS signal. A key challenge for this novel navigation system to operate accurately however is dealing with wind and gust effects. Wind gust can drift a drone and cause 10’s to 100 eds of meters accumulated navigation errors in the autopilot.

This current research project aims at drawing inspiration from nature in solving this problem. Development of novel sensor network and analysis framework (based on Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD and Deep Neural Networks) will be aiming to achieve real-time drone ‘skin’ sensation of the wind effects. Numerous experimental (Wind-tunnel based) and Modelling (CFD and Deep Neural Networks) sub-projects available for Both Master and semester/design student projects are available and further described here.

Familiarity and interest in the field of CFD, Aerodynamics, Sensor calibration, Deep Learning could be beneficial.

Recommended type of project: Master thesis / Semester project (master students)
Work breakdown:  % theory, % software, % experimentation (Work split can be agreed for each specific subproject – from puerly software/theory to almost full concentration on experimentation)
Prerequisites:  Familiarity and interest in the field of CFD, Aerodynamics, Sensor calibration, Deep Learning could be beneficial.
Keywords: Autonomous drone navigation, Biomimetics, Wind tunnel testing, CFD and Deep Learning


If you have interest in this domain, please don’t hesitate to contact TOPO staff.

Visit IS-Academia project page for specific proposals.