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Unmanned System Technology: Methods of Control


Unmanned systems can take different forms and be implemented as aerial, ground, underwater, or space vehicles. They can be operated by a human remotely or be autonomous, relying on their navigation system.

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The first type, human-controlled transports, can be teleoperated with the help of a joystick and video feedback from the cameras installed on the device (University of Michigan Engineering, 2013). Autonomous vehicles use sensors and navigation to detect obstacles and stabilize their position. On the land, the stability of the vehicle on the terrain and its recognition of the obstacles lie at the center of all concerns. In the air, the balance of the device gains importance; obstacles in the air can be much more dynamic (Bouffard, 2010; Terwilliger, Ison, Robbins, & Vincenzi, 2017). In space, the difference in gravitation, as well as the limited access to video feedback, require higher autonomy of the vehicle and stricter requirements for route calculations (European Space Agency, ESA, 2013). Underwater vehicles operate under pressure that is different from that on land.

A more advanced option for human-operated vehicles is the use of augmented reality in conditions, where a direct line of sight for a mission is unavailable (University of Michigan Engineering, 2013). The virtual scene of the environment is created to help the user to navigate situations where a camera is not enough. This “master-slave” system is not suitable for all tasks or environments; however, as much data is needed to create augmented reality. As noted by the latest version of the STANAG 4586 standards, the growing uncertainty of the world increases the need for higher autonomy (Završnik, 2015).


Another potential innovation is the creation of fully autonomous vehicles that use sensors to cooperate and perform complex and dynamic maneuvers (TED, 2012). These robots will not only be able to assess their surroundings quickly but also work together, leading to the creation of collaborating vehicle systems.


Bouffard, P. (2010). Quadrotor autonomous flight and obstacle avoidance with Kinect sensor. Web.

European Space Agency, ESA. (2013). Navigating in space. Web.

TED. (2012). Robots that fly… and cooperate | Vijay Kumar. Web.

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Terwilliger, B., Ison, D. C., Robbins, J., & Vincenzi, D. (2017). Small unmanned aircraft systems guide: Exploring designs, operations, regulations, and economics. Newcastle, WA: Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc.

University of Michigan Engineering. (2013). High-tech control of unmanned ground vehicles. Web.

Završnik, A. (Ed.). (2015). Drones and unmanned aerial systems: Legal and social implications for security and surveillance. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

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