The Aerobotics© (Aerial Robotics) Research Group at Monash, established in 1999, is interested in all aspects of the design, construction and application of UAVs. The Group's primary focus is on electrically powered aircraft however its research is also supported by more conventional aircraft particularly for long range applications.

Updated 21 October, 2007

Overview (pdf)
Researchers | Publications | Operations | Aircraft | Avionics
Selected Trials | Supporters


The Group acts as a focus for some of the UAV research at Monash. Group Members personal pages should be consulted for their own specific contributions and publications. Please refer to the Department of Electrical & Computer Systems Engineering Staff and Research Directories.


The Group is fully insured for non-line of sight fully autonomous operations. Operations are conducted under the guidance of the Monash UAV Operations Manual.



The P15035 is our main work horse. P16025 is a higher aspect aircraft with lower payload and higher endurance.


The details here relate to the P16025, P15035 and Duigan aircraft. Terry Cornall and Ray Cooper were largely responsible for the early work on telemetry. Numerous components were developed to support the research.

UAVs pose numerous challenges. Our comprehensive RF test facilities have proved invaluable in addressing these challenges.


The group works with several autopilots. Our VMC autopilots, unlike INS based autopilots, require almost no setup. We have succesfully used in flight Z-N autotuning. Ming Liu and Greg Egan are working on more sophisticated model identification and tuning schemes (pdf) which are applicable to INS as well as our VMC autopilots.

  • Micropilot MP2028g and MP2128heli
  • VMCAutopilots (Brian Taylor pdf & Greg Egan pdf)
  • FPGA based Autopilot

We now have many hours of log files from our autopilots which we may release to other researchers particularly those working in the area aircraft control systems. We have developed a visualiser (pdf), based on Microsoft Flight Simulator and FlightGear, which plays the logfiles. This may be used in online or offline mode.

See also the overview paper.

Radio Control

The primary radio control links are based on JR PCM equipment operating at 36MHz.


The failsafe VHF beacon uses Radiometrix RF Modules. Loss of the beacon signal for any reason for a period longer than 2.5s will terminate the flight. The nominal range of this Beacon is 10Km.

For some test flights within line of sight we do not use the VHF Beacon. In these cases failsafe is triggered by the loss of RC transmissions for more than 1.5s.

The failsafe monitoring circuits are independent of the autopilot and use separate power sources sufficient to trigger parachute release mechanisms. The purpose of the parachute is to limit kinetic energy not as an aircraft recovery mechanism.

See also the overview paper .

Data Telemetry

Date telemetry is at 900MHz using a MaxStream modems. The nominal range of this equipment is 32Km.

Video Telemetry

Video Telemetry is at 2.4GHz. The nominal range of the link is 1Km with patch antenna built by Ray Cooper or greater with a tracking antenna [YouTube] (paper)developed by Stewart Jenvey and visiting researchers. Stewart's interests extend to all aspects of RF design and avionics.


Currenty we use the Pentax Optio series of cameras because of their low mass and ability to stream video. The camera is remotely operated by synthesising Pentax commands and coupling them to the camera remote control system using opto-couplers.

We also use a variety of simple steerable card cameras largely for viewing airframe performance (airflow, parachute release, control surface operation etc.).

Most of the early work on camera systems and telemetry was peformed by Terry Cornall and Ray Cooper. Terry continued to be a driving force on video telemetry and other camera based techniques.


See our publications for other avionics related research and some examples of components supporting the avionics.

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Selected Trials

Earlier trial presentations have a more populist presentation as the emphasis was more on attracting students of school age to our University. We have regularly taken part in Air Shows where we are accorded the status of flight crews for demonstration flighs. The VRRF proposal had a major educational focus aimed at assisting in arresting the flight of youth from rural areas.

These pages are no longer routinely updated as we are concentrating our attention on publications and the other demands of University life. See also You Tube for videos.


  • September 8 Woodleigh P15035 confirming tests for Micropilot gains after firmware upgrade




  • November 10 Micropilot Trials and P15035 Catapult Launch [1.4Mb] Croydon Aeromodellers Club Field, Yarra Valley
  • October 9 Aerial Survey of Professor Jarvis's Grampians Property.
  • January Parachute Deployment [4.8 Mb]
  • July 26 Parachute Failsafe Brigg's Field Follows earlier tests for terminal velocity control using a drogue parachute. The parachute is deployed [6.2Mb] on loss of beacon. Results accord with predictions with the P15035 Plank aircraft being slowed to just below stall speed.
  • May 27 Micropilot First Flights Woodleigh [5.9Mb] A Micropilot MP2028 autopilot was fitted to the P15035. The Micropilot was chosen to allow ready comparisons with Aerobotics Group developed autopilots. The first flights showed good attitude recovery however careful setting up was required for the less common electric propulsion used by the Group.
  • May 2 P16025 Wing Alignment Brigg's Field [3.7Mb] Assymetries in wing alignment can to lead to the aircraft strongly favouring one direction when forced into high angle of attack stalls. The higher aspect ration P16025 has a much stronger spin characteristic than the slightly broader chord and lower aspect ratio P15035.
  • March 14 Prototype Plank (Weetie) [4.5Mb] Altitude, Airspeed and Attitude Control Kilcunda Ridge.
  • February 4 P923 aka P15035 First Flight [6.8Mb] Brigg's Field.
  • February 4 Prototype Plank (Cornflake) [2.0Mb] Altitude and Attitude Control Brigg's Field.






  • December 17 Trial 02 - video trials two cameras stills | video
  • November 14 Trial 01 - video trials one camera stills | video
  • November 3, First Eye in the Sky Trials


We greatfully acknowledge the support of the many friends and organisations including:

Mr Richard (Dick) Hargrave
Dr Greg Holland, Founder Aerosonde Robotic Aircraft Company
The Duigan Family
Mr Peter Cossins
The Victorian Association of Radio Model Soaring (VARMS)
Mr Ivan Waters and Family of Yarra Glen
Mr Geoffrey Atkinson of Step Global

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The term Aerobotics is Copyright © 1999, CTIE