Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

The following goals were established for the problem definition phase: 

  • Fully understand the requirements of the project and develop a comprehensive problem statement.
  • Establish customer requirements based on the customer interview.
  • Develop engineering requirements based on the customer requirements.
  • Clearly define team roles and expectations and establish team values.
  • Identify potential risks and have an idea of how they might be handled.
  • Establish a project plan and schedule.

Work accomplished:

  • A comprehensive problem statement has been drafted using the Project Readiness Package (PRP) and customer requirements.
  • Customer and engineering requirements have been established based on customer meeting.
  • Team roles, expectations and values have been established.
  • Potential risks have been identified.
  • A draft project plan and schedule have been established.

Work to be done:

  • Project schedule.


Andy MeyerProject Manager, Customer, Firmware Lead
Ben PalmerMechanical Lead, Communications Lead
Piers KwanPattern Recognition Lead
Atulya JohnElectrical Lead
Sabrina LyTesting Lead, Purchasing Lead
Mutahir MustahsanFacilitator

Problem Description

Natural disasters and other crises cause extreme damage to urban landscapes and undeveloped areas alike, trapping citizens of the affected area until rescue can be provided.  Sometimes, it is possible for the residents to continue living with minimal effect on their lives for many weeks, while in other cases, just hours can cause immeasurable damage.  Rescue efforts are resource-limited, and teams strive to focus on the most critically affected areas first. These areas must first be located and the damage must be assessed, which incurs significant latency in sending appropriate help to the affected areas.

The rescue efforts can be sped up and reduced in cost if some portion of the effort can be automated. 

In the short term, we seek to develop aircraft which are capable of basic autonomous flight for long periods of time (exceeding 30 continuous minutes) while equipped with a sensor package which will allow the craft to search for signs of life in a disaster scene.  Long term goals include advanced autonomous navigation at lower altitudes, mesh networking across multiple autonomous vehicles, and swarm searching of an affected area. The ultimate mission of this undertaking is to produce an economical, practical and measurable improvement to disaster analysis and relief, with the goal of reducing the cost of saving lives with limited resources while not tying up the produced solution to a particular company, institution, nation, or government of any kind.

Use Scenarios

The following Use Case scenarios detail how the product will be implemented in certain scenarios.

Pilot Loses Contact with Drone

This use scenario deals with an event in which the pilot loses contact with the drone. 


  • Drone returns to base when contact is lost

Damage to Aircraft Propeller/Wing

This use scenario deals with a failure mode involving damage to crucial components of the aircraft.


  • Drone ejects black box with valuable information
  • First responders are able to locate and recover the data

Autonomy Hindered

This use scenario deals with a case in which the device decides that human supervision is required.


  • Drone defers back to operator when in conditions are unclear

Impending Crash

This use scenario deals with response to objects in the flight path.


  • Drone takes control and avoids object
  • Drone relays information to the pilot
  • Drone still allows pilot to take back control



Customer Requirements and Engineering Requirements

Project Plan & Schedule


Risk Management

Plans for Next Phase

The plans for the next phase of the project for were broken up into team plans and plans for individual team members.

Team Plans:

  • Develop potential design concepts.
  • Identify sensors and other hardware required to accomplish tasks.
  • Develop potential methods for testing.
  • Meet with aero team members about:
    • Battery weight vs. airtime.
    • Structural Integrity given additional payload.
    • Potential testing methods
  • Explore finance options for additional funding.

Individual Plans:

  • Atulya John
    1. Identify micro-controllers that may be useful for the drone.
      1. Talk to Dr. Barrios about suitable micro-controllers.
    2. Research drone power systems.
    3. Talk to Dr. Kaputa in the CET dept. about his UAV project.
  • Andy Meyer
    1. Speak with Dr. Savakis about aerial person detection strategies
    2. Seek and enumerate possible sources for funding from local agencies and organizations
    3. Begin prototyping a ground-based testing harness and setting up software build-and-test (BAT) environments.  Educate the team about these workflows.
    4. Find a project management system that everyone can work with. We are currently looking into JIRA for this task.
  • Piers Kwan
    1. Look into the use of JIRA. Demonstrate the use of JIRA to the team.
    2. Look for sponsorship (Persistent Systems, etc.) when we hone down the telemetry design.
    3. Research autonomous flight.
  • Sabrina Ly
    1. Possibly speak with the aero team about testing harnesses and simulations.
    2. Research different types of thermal sensor and potential cost limitations.
    3. Figure out the other different types of sensors necessary for functionality.
  • Ben Palmer
    1. Talk to topic expert Dr. Crassidis about information resources
    2. Research design tactics to ensure reliability in inclement weather (frame stiffening, waterproofing, wind resistance, etc.)
    3. Research/Sketch frame modifications to evenly distribute weight and improve flight time
    4. Research/Sketch possible modular capacities for sensor packages
  • Mutahir Mustahsan
    1. Research Drone protection/sketch design
    2. Think about/Sketch design for electronic emergency release
    3. Sketch ideas on how to add payload to fixed wing UAV's without compromising flight

Links to Relevant Documents

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