Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are nowadays becoming versatile and inexpensive tools for doing operations that formerly were either impossible or extremely costly. Beside the well known military applications, they can be effectively used also for non-military purposes.
Starting from using UAV platforms available on the market, CSP is actually doing R&D activities mainly on “Vertical take-off and Landing” (VTOL) drones in two main directions:
- Enabling autonomous missions: this topic aims at the development of systems for making the drones able to accomplish short missions without being guided by any expert pilot. In this scenario the human being on the ground acts as a “mission supervisor”, ready to interact in case of emergency or danger. A system based on image processing algorithm s is used for enabling the autonomous landing procedure.
- Developing new application-driven payloads: using the space available on the UAV, we can deploy on it electronic systems taking care of actual size, shape and weight limits. For example, the drone can be used to collect air quality data from on-board sensors. Another interesting experiment is to use the UAV as a “mobile collector” of data coming from sensors located in the ground: this activity has been made in the Botanical Garden project  where data coming from a WSN have been collected by a flying drone.
CSP is developing a multi-purpose payload that enables autonomous missions, equipped with an expansion board for connecting different kind of environmental sensors: see here for more details.