Autonomous Airborne Docking for Refueling or Recharging

This video shows some recent flight test results from my PhD research on autonomous UAV docking, that was conducted with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at The University of Sydney. To the best of our knowledge, these experiments are the first time two UAVs have docked in mid-air.

Some of my other videos provide more specifics on the hardware/software, but I'm using my own autopilot, a Beaglebone Black as the formation flight computer and an Odroid U3 to do the onboard vision processing. All the guidance, navigation and control algorithms on all the hardware is developed in Simulink and automatically converted to C/C++.

The IR vision aspect is probably of interest to some of the guys doing auto-landing with IR beacons. We use a C920 with narrow bandpass filter and 940nm LED markers without modulation. It works in all lighting conditions except when looking directly at the sun where the high number of false positives are difficult to distinguish from the actual markers, but there are a number of ways to handle this infrequent situation.

There are some nice airborne shots so watch in HD!

Views: 3748

Comment by Gisela & Joe Noci on April 18, 2015 at 3:40am

Very Well Done!! Few will realise what good flight control is required to get it in the hole...Excellent!

The Nampilot..

Comment by johnkowalsky on April 18, 2015 at 3:51am

I thought about something like this a while ago. Awesome implementation BTW!

Truely amazing

Comment by Felix Meissner on April 18, 2015 at 3:58am

wow - that's awesome

Comment by Adam Kroll on April 18, 2015 at 4:01am

Amazing work, that's crazy.

Comment by Thomas Stone on April 18, 2015 at 4:56am

Awesome. I love the extreme application. :) Much more exciting than auto-landing. 

Comment by Thomas Stone on April 18, 2015 at 5:31am


The pattern recognition is great (as well as absolutely necessary for geometry/orientation calcs). Our strategy is to 'layer' that onto the modulation, where the modulation is used as a first line of defense against false detections. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on April 18, 2015 at 6:14am

Impressive! Great work!!


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

Comment by avionics on April 18, 2015 at 6:31am

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video. Thanks for sharing it. 

Comment by Hernan Borcano on April 18, 2015 at 6:50am

now that is awesome!!!! amazing work!

Comment by Daniel Lukonis on April 18, 2015 at 8:23am

Nice nice nice!


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