Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Eslamiat, Hossein


One of the main challenges of the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into today’s society is the risk of in-flight failures, such as motor failure, occurring in populated areas that can result in catastrophic accidents. We propose a framework to manage the consequences of an in-flight system failure and to bring down the aircraft safely without causing any serious accident to people, property, and the UAV itself. This can be done in three steps: a) Detecting a failure, b) Finding a safe landing spot, and c) Navigating the UAV to the safe landing spot. In this thesis, we will look at part b. Specifically, we are working to develop an active system that can detect landing sites autonomously without any reliance on UAV resources. To detect a safe landing site, we are using a deep learning algorithm named "You Only Look Once" (YOLO) that runs on a Jetson Xavier NX computing module, which is connected to a camera, for image processing. YOLO is trained using the DOTA dataset and we show that it can detect landing spots and obstacles effectively. Then by avoiding the detected objects, we find a safe landing spot. The effectiveness of this algorithm will be shown first by comprehensive simulations. We also plan to experimentally validate this algorithm by flying a UAV and capturing ground images, and then applying the algorithm in real-time to see if it can effectively detect acceptable landing spots.




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