Mechanical Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-6-2021


This thesis develops a response to the increase in the availability of the commercially available uncrewed aerial systems and is dedicated to the detection, classification, and tracking required to successfully neutralize when determined malicious. A requirement of actively avoiding obstacles using runtime assurance is addressed and designed to keep the hardware safe in potentially dangerous situations. This work will elaborate on the several components the test bed is comprised of, specifically the hardware and software portions that successfully solve the problem. The software encompasses the simulation, the multiple algorithms required for the tracking, and the machine learning required for detection and classification. The hardware in this work is responsible for proving the real world application outside of a simulated environment. It encompasses embedded computers, 3D printed quadrotor parts, cameras, and anything else required for successful real-world testing. The platform developed is capable of operating without human intervention. This autonomous platform, for the Mobile Adaptive/Reactive Counter-Uncrewed System (MARCUS) project, can operate with specific synchronicities of a network of hardware and software, an advantage a human pilot does mot have. Autonomy is used specifically to improve the success rate when neutralizing a threat as flight prediction and fast control exist within the autonomous system. Contributions include the implementation of a runtime assurance framework within simulation and on hardware, design of a custom trajectory generation algorithm, implementation of a drone detection algorithm that can detect and classify, design of a leader-follower algorithm, custom design and printing of 3D models, and the complete build of a custom quadrotor designed for using on-board detection.

MARCUS is a multi-national project supported by the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport, Armasuisse S+T, Switzerland; University of New Mexico, United States; Sandia National Laboratories, United States; and NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.


Counter-UAS, Counter-UAV, Runtime Assurance, Autonomous Quadrotor, Counter-Quadrotor, MARCUS

Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Rafael Fierro

Second Committee Member

Dr. Claus Danielson

Third Committee Member

Dr. Meeko Oishi

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Kendra Lang


Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport, Armasuisse S+T, Switzerland; Sandia National Laboratories, United States; NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme

Document Type