Date of Award

Fall 9-23-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Computer Science

First Advisor

Alberto Quattrini Li

Second Advisor

Adithya Pediredla

Third Advisor

Laura Ray


Fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are commonly used for remote sensing applications over water bodies, such as monitoring water quality or tracking harmful algal blooms. However, there are some types of measurements that are difficult to accurately obtain from the air. In existing work, water samples have been collected in situ either by hand, with an unmanned surface vehicle (USV), or with a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV such as a multirotor. We propose a path planner, landing control algorithm, and energy estimator that will allow a low-cost and energy efficient fixed-wing UAV to carry out a combined remote sensing and direct water sampling mission without requiring sophisticated sensors and using limited onboard computation. Finally, we demonstrate a fully autonomous mission on a modified off-the-shelf RC aircraft. The aircraft flies a survey pattern, lands at a series of sampling points and then returns to the starting location while respecting the available energy budget. In our experiments, we completed multiple sampling missions in the real world with no aborted landings or crashes and an overall energy estimation error of approximately 5%.