Comparison of Flight Paths from Fixed-Wing and Rotorcraft Small Unmanned Aerial Systems at SR530 Mudslide Washington State Conference Paper uri icon


  • 2015 IEEE. This work provides a case study of both fixed-wing and rotorcraft small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) used in a deployment at the SR530 mudslides in Washington state and compares the types of flight paths used by each vehicle type. Previously aerial imagery from SUAS have produced 2D and 3D reconstructions of simple terrain, but have not been used in complex terrain which encompasses both flat areas and drastic changes in the height of ground level, such as a mudslide. In this deployment, both types of SUAS platforms were used to collect imagery over terrain varied nearly 200m in elevation but different paths were used due to the complexity of the terrain, safety, privacy, and platform-specific limitations. The deployment found that paths with fixed-wing platforms can be thought of as stacked horizontal planes while rotorcraft can cover complex terrain with a set of vertical planes. The different paths contribute to autonomous path planning, particularly to accommodate vertical planes, and to general understanding of how different SUAS can be applied to challenging terrains. Future work in path planning should incorporate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information to facilitate flight paths in vertical planes and to maintain altitude restrictions relative to radically changing elevations of a landscape.

name of conference

  • 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Duncan, B. A., & Murphy, R. R.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Duncan, Brittany A||Murphy, Robin R

publication date

  • May 2015