JPL’s Robotics Section operates a diverse fleet of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) to conduct research and develop new technologies with the goal to enable fully autonomous operation of aerial vehicles in planetary and Earth science applications.
Our vehicles vary in sizes - from Micro Air Vehicles that fit in the palm of a hand (Figure 1) - up to larger vehicles designed to carry multi-kilogram payloads for evaluation and testing of new avionics hardware or novel science instruments during field campaigns.
While most of our UAS are based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) platforms augmented with additional hardware such as sensors and on-board computation, JPL also designs and builds aerial platforms to evaluate new aerial mobility concepts (Figure 1 – Micro quadrotor, Figure 4 – Rollercopter, Figure 5 - SQUID).
Our research for aerial mobility includes:
With the vision to enable these versatile platforms to conduct fully autonomous science missions without human interaction – on Earth and other bodies in our solar system with an atmosphere to support flight.