Aerial Manipulation for Remote Sensing Applications

Why it matters

There is a growing interest to autonomously collect or manipulate objects in remote or unknown environments, such as mountains, gullies, bush-land, or rough terrain. There are several limitations of conventional methods using manned or remotely controlled aircraft. The capability of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) used in parallel with robotic manipulators could overcome some of these limitations. By enabling the autonomous exploration of both naturally hazardous environments, or areas which are biologically, chemically, or radioactively contaminated, it is possible to collect samples and data from such environments without directly exposing personnel to such risks.


This project aims to assess the use of aerial manipulation in remote sampling applications, and the capability of such systems in outdoor environments. The use of  UAV in parallel with robotic manipulators provides the ability of UAV to navigate terrain or environments that ground-based unmanned vehicles or personnel would find potentially hazardous, while maintaining the potential to interact with the environment itself. Such interactions include tasks such as pick-and-place type manoeuvres, accurate point sampling, or detailed inspections.

The aim of this project is develop a robust framework allowing the integration of aerial manipulators of multiple size categories and applications.

The project objectives are:

  1. Development of system framework for to perform complex aerial manipulation tasks completely autonomously.
  2. Development of suitable manipulators for key tasks of interest, namely pick-and-place and  accurate gas sampling.
  3. Evaluation and testing of multiple platforms in simulation and controlled real-world environments.
  4. Migration, testing, and evaluation of the framework in outdoor environments.

Milestones & Achievements

  • Identification of systems and methods typically used in the field of aerial manipulation.
  • Construction of a real-world aerial manipulator and analysis on the feasibility of using commercially available sensor and control hardware.
  • Theoretical development of a system framework and the control methods required to operate aerial manipulators.
  • Software development and testing of a general simulation environment that allows for any form of aerial manipulator to be simulated.
  • Performance analysis and verification of the proposed system framework using the simulation environment

Reachibility map

Reachability map

UAV with MM in flight
UAV with MM in flight

Other Team Members