Dr Aaron Mcfadyen

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PhD (Queensland University of Technology)

Aaron McFadyen is an Accelerate Research Fellow in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) discipline within the Science and Engineering Faculty (SEF). Coupling an aerospace engineering background and education with formal research training in automatons systems, Aaron is passionate about solving key industry enabling problems in the robotics and aerospace domains.

  • In the robotics domain, Aaron’s research focuses on extending visual control (visual servoing) techniques to ensure stable relative robot-target motion in challenging environments.
  • In the aerospace domain, his research focuses on applied data analytics and optimization for unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems that may one day support flying cars or Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAVs).  

Career History:

  • Following completion of a B.Eng(Hons) in Aerospace Engineering and private pilot’s license, Aaron worked for Emirates-CAE (Dubai, U.A.E) as a Flight Simulator Engineering. He then returned to QUT  to undertake a PhD focused on automated vision-based aircraft collision avoidance and separation systems. During this time, Aaron also undertook lead research roles on multiple commercial projects related to unmanned aircraft integration and application development. Prior to finishing his PhD, and in recognition of Aaron’s research ability, he was awarded an Endeavour Research Fellowship (2012) to progress unmanned aircraft collision avoidance and separation principles research at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and one of 12 Queensland State Government Accelerate Fellowships (2014).  Aaron has since spent the last 2 years researching new unmanned traffic management systems and air traffic modelling techniques to support a future airspace environment . This research has been further supported and funded by Thales Australia and CASA, and he is actively engaged with Airservices Australia for auxiliary unmanned aircraft integration research.   During his career Aaron has established or maintained  multiple industry partnership and collaborations.

Significant Achievements

  • 2014 Awarded Accelerate Research Fellowship (Queensland Government)
  • 2012 Awarded Endevour Research Fellowship (Australian Government)
  • 2008 Awarded Instructor of the Year (Perisher Blue)
  • 2004 Awarded University Half Blue and  Green and Gold Recipient
  • 2001 Private Pilots License, Aerobics CSU and Tailwheel Endorsements  (CASA)


  • Since his initial publication in 2012, Aaron has authored over 20 articles (including top aerospace and robotics journals) and received over $0.45M research funding as principle/lead researcher (co-investigator funding $>1M) .


  • Member – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Member – IEEE Control System Society (CSS)
  • Member – IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (RAS)

Projects (Chief investigator)


Additional information

Research/Academic Experience

  • Research Fellow (2015-Present) – Robotics and Autonomous Systems (QUT, Brisbane,  Australia)
    • Projects: Lead researcher for airspace modelling and flight plan design for UAS/RPAS integration.
    • Skills: Data mining (air traffic data), machine learning (clustering & classification), control and optimization (flight planning), statistics, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Air Traffic Management, industry engagement/collaboration, project management, teaching & supervision
  • Research Engineer  (2013-2015) – Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA, Brisbane,  Australia)
    • Projects: Lead researcher for UAS Scoping study for UAS/RPAS integration into Australian civil airspace, scoping study for UAS/RPAS in plant biosecurity & buffel grass detection using UAS/RPAS
    • Skills: UAS/RPAS integration issues, air traffic management, flight rules/regulations, telecommunications systems/networks,  imaging sensors & systems, industry engagement, managing customer expectations
  • Visiting Researcher  (2012) – Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ETH, Zurich, Switzerland)
    • Aerial robotics, visual control, nonlinear model predictive control, estimation
  • PhD Student (2010-2015) –  Robotics and Autonomous Systems (QUT, Brisbane, Australia)
    • Aerial robotics, visual control, nonlinear model predictive control, estimation, collaboration building

Professional Experience

  • Engineer  (2006-2007) –  Commercial Flight Simulation (CAE, Dubai, U.A.E)
    • Operation and maintenance, troubleshooting and upgrade of all hardware and software components for various Classic and SimXXI CAE aircraft simulators including helicopters (Bell412EP), business jets (G4, G5, Hawker 800/800XP) and commercial jets (B737, B777, A320, A330, A340).  Pilot liaison (end user engagement/feedback for development)