Autonomous Flight for Detection, Localization, and Tracking of Moving Targets with a Small Quadrotor

Justin Thomas, Jake Welde, Giuseppe Loianno, Kostas Daniilidis, Vijay Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this letter, we address the autonomous flight of a small quadrotor, enabling tracking of a moving object. The 15-cm diameter, 250-g robot relies only on onboard sensors (a single camera and an inertial measurement unit) and computers, and can detect, localize, and track moving objects. Our key contributions include the relative pose estimate of a spherical target as well as the planning algorithm, which considers the dynamics of the underactuated robot, the actuator limitations, and the field of view constraints. We show simulation and experimental results to demonstrate feasibility and performance, as well as robustness to abrupt variations in target motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7921549
Pages (from-to)1762-1769
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Aerial systems: perception and autonomy
  • optimization and optimal control
  • visual servoing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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