Cornell University Unmanned Air Systems
Who We Are
CUAir (Cornell University Unmanned Air Systems) is an interdisciplinary student team that designs, builds and tests a custom search and rescue unmanned aerial system. We are the world champions of an international unmanned aerial vehicle competition. We are made up of 61 students ranging from all years and a variety of majors which make up the seven subteams.
Our system is capable of performing a variety of search-and-rescue related tasks such as autonomous flight, waypoint navigation, target detection, and airdrop. This year, we’ve taken on the challenge of building our most ambitious plane yet. In addition to competing in the annual AUVSI SUAS Competition, we are planning to enter a second competition in 2020: the Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV) Challenge in Australia.
To see more on our team, check our some of our videos below:
Building CUAir: Composites
Spotlight of a Full Team Lead
Our 2017-2018 Team Promo
The Airframe subteam is responsible for all the aerodynamic components of the plane. The subteam designs, builds, and tests a custom airframe capable of carrying our mission payloads. Using rapid prototyping technology and composite materials, the Airframe subteam is able to create a robust and efficient airplane that excels at all required tasks.
The Autopilot subteam is responsible for ensuring that the aircraft can perform all necessary maneuvers to fulfill the mission requirements. This involves configuring and tuning the autopilot for each of our aircrafts, as well as implementing software to aid in autonomous flight planning, which includes our autopilot ground station and path planning algorithms. The Autopilot subteam is constantly evaluating all autopilot systems available to determine which will perform best for us.
Design and Operations
The Design and Operations subteam works at the intersection of technology, design, and business, similar to a start-up. Major projects of the subteam include the team's annual flight readiness review, technical journal paper, and website. The subteam primarily works on graphic and video design, front-end development, marketing and branding, sponsor relations, and outreach events.
The Electrical Subteam handles the electrical hardware both in the aircraft and on the ground. The subteam works on the electronics firmware, avionics power distribution board, camera gimbal controller, airdrop controller, ground station antenna tracker, catapult launch controller and communications system between the ground and the plane.
The Platform subteam designs and implements the software infrastructure that communicates between the plane's computer and the ground station. The ground server not only integrates data between the Autopilot and Vision subteams, but also uses a frontend to view mission-related information and images taken from the plane camera as well as to control various systems on the plane such as the camera, gimbal, and airdrop mechanisms.
Mechanical focuses on designing for system integration and human interaction, through a closed loop design process that utilizes rapid prototyping technology and continual testing to design a world class UAV. The mechanical subteam designs, builds, and tests the non-aerodynamic parts of the aircraft, such as the fuselage shell, camera gimbal, electronics bay, and airdrop mechanism, as well as various ground systems used for assistance during flight and subsystem testing, such as the antenna tracker and catapult.
The Vision subteam is responsible for automatically detecting and identifying targets from images captured by our plane while it's in flight. This process involves target localization, shape classification, alphanumeric classification, color classification, and orientation. We use a frontend to test and view system results. We use a customized frontend to test our system. Our daily focus is to optimize system performance and accuracy.
As a student team, we need your support to build our aircraft. It is primarily made out of carbon fiber which has a hefty price tag so in order to continue iterating upon our design so our aircraft is as functional, durable, and flyable as possible we need the funds to be able to purchase materials like carbon fiber, electrical boards, and more.
In order to reach competition, we need funds for transportation and the hotels we reside in which is for 20 members, 10 for flight line which are mission-critical people like the pilot, and 10 guests which also our team members.
More importantly, we are trying to participate in one more international competition in 2020: The UAV Challenge. This competition is meant to demonstrate the utility of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles for civilian applications, particularly in those applications that will save the lives of people in the future. It is located in Queensland, Australia so we need your help so we can participate.