Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Kimon P. Valavanis

Second Advisor

Mattew J. Rutherford


Area Coverage, Autonomous Helicopter, Endurance, System Integration, Unmanned System


Class I (<150 kg) autonomous helicopters are becoming increasingly popular for a wide range of non-military applications such as, surveillance, reconnaissance, traffic monitoring, emergency response, agricultural spraying, and many other "eye in the sky" missions. However, an efficient landing/takeoff platform with refueling/recharging capabilities has not yet been developed to increase the endurance and decrease the cost for Class I helicopters.

This dissertation presents a three-prong approach for increasing the range and endurance of Class I autonomous helicopters, which will then spur demand by non-military organizations wanting to take advantage of such capabilities and, therefore, drop their price. The proposed Intelligent Self-Leveling and Nodal Docking System (ISLANDS) is developed as a mobile refueling/recharging station, which is one part of a three-pronged approach. ISLANDS is an electro-mechanical system that provides a safe landing surface for helicopters on gradients of up to 60%. ISLANDS operates "off the grid" and, therefore, must provide its own energy sources for the refueling/recharging tasks it performs. A method for determining ISLANDS' energy needs for refueling/recharging of gas and/or electric helicopters for an arbitrary number of days is provided as the second part of the three-pronged approach. The final step for increasing autonomous helicopter endurance is a method for determining placement of ISLANDS nodes in the area to be serviced ensuring that the helicopters can achieve their mission goal.

In this dissertation all aspects of the three-pronged approach are presented and explained in detail, providing experimental results that validate the proposed methods to solve each of the three problems. A case study using Commercially Off The Shelf (COTS) components that shows how all the parts of the proposed three-pronged solution work together for increasing the endurance of Class I helicopters is provided as a conclusion to the dissertation.


Copyright is held by the author.


Recieved from ProQuest

Rights holder

Roy Godzdanker

File size

144 p.

File format





Robotics, Aerospace engineering, Mechanical engineering