Multicopter Lab

Applied Collaborative Engineering of Embedded Systems

  • Master EI
  • 6 ECTS, 6 SWS (1/0/5)
  • English (since winter 2016/2017)
  • Winter and summer term (since winter 2014/15)


This lab module combines solving of contemporary technical issues in the domain of multicopters with the experience of hands-on project management in small teams. The development and testing platform in this lab are the multicopters of our chair (MART).

First, students are familiarized with the basics of technical project management, as well as modern tools for efficient collaboration in teams. In the subsequent weeks, students will solve a technical problem in groups of three to six persons, and apply these methods. Towards that, a work breakdown structure, as well as a project schedule has to be developed. Intermediate and final results will be checked in the form of design reviews and a final presentation, to ensure the technical goals can be reached or suitably adjusted until the end of the semester.

The module is concluded with the writing of a joint final report and a seminar-like presentation of the technical solutions.

Organization & Registration

The registration follows the new process for labs in the Electrical Engineering (students with less labs are preferred, as well as students in higher semesters), between 2017 September 1st and 2017 October 13th. However, any registration is not binding until the first appointment, where fixed seats will be assigned.

Obligatory Appointment

All registered students are asked to attend the kick-off meeting at Monday, 2017 October 16th 13:15 in room 4981. Attendees will be assigned fixed seats in the order of their waiting list position.

Topics WS17/18

Topics are preliminary; other topics might be added later.

  • Flight-trajectory-synchronized camera control: Automatic time and location-dependent camera alignment (GoPro) based on a "camera schedule" synchronized to the flight trajectory. Development of a graphical user interface for definition of the camera schedule, as well as development of an onboard component to control the camera alignment according to the schedule and vehicle attitude.
  • Advanced 3D Mapping: Develop real-time 3D sensing and mission capabilities based on our LIDAR system. Apply methods from machine learning or signal processing to improve the postprocessing of point clouds, and reconstruct a 3D view of the copter's surroundings in real-time. The copter shall be able to react to certain features in its environment. Builds on work from SS17.
Point cloud view at ground station
Point cloud view of a hallway

Topics SS17

The following topics were offered in SS2017:

  1. Aerial 3D mapping: Use the data from a light-weight LIDAR sensor attached to the copter to generate a 3D map of a small building and the ground around it.

Topics WS16/17

The following topics were offered in WS2016/2017:

  1. Smart Search-and-Rescue Flight Mode: Read images from a ground-facing onboard camera and use data classification algorithms (SVM, LDA, etc.) to automatically find “irregularities” in the scenery and through this identify interesting objects in the field of view, e.g., a missing person or a crashed drone. Interesting snapshots shall be shown in the ground station software as pop-up items on the map, where an operator can open them and evaluate whether the irregularity is the searched object.
  2. In-flight Battery Status Monitoring: Build a measurement setup that monitors the voltage values of individual series-connected battery cells, current, and operating temperature. Gather measurement data from test flights and in-lab experiments. Find parameters such as internal resistance, capacitance, and temperature dependency for some existing Li-ion battery cell models. Implement a precise fuel gauge software that outputs reliable results for a wide range of operating temperature, and ages of batteries. Additional task would be to find some temperature management techniques such as embedding a heater in the batteries, pre-heating the batteries for a flight, etc.

Topics SS16

The following topics were offered in SS2016:

  1. C2 Link Management: Improving the reliability of the data link between copter and ground station by multiplexing multiple RF links (WiFi, 433MHz ISM, etc.), as well as prioritization of traffic. Design and implementation of a configurable rule set and measurements of the resulting performance during flight tests.
  2. Flight-trajectory-synchronized camera control: Automatic time and location-dependent camera alignment (GoPro) based on a "camera schedule" synchronized to the flight trajectory. Selection and integration of a suitable gimbal, development of a graphical user interface for definition of the camera schedule, as well as development of an onboard component to control the camera alignment according to the schedule and vehicle attitude.

Themen WS15/16

Folgende Themengebiete wurden im WS2015/2016 angeboten:

  1. Flugzeitsteigerung: Validierung und Überarbeitung eines bestehenden Modells des elektrischen Antriebs (MATLAB) mit Hilfe von bereits gesammelten Flight Logs. Auswahl neuer Antriebskomponenten (Props, Motor, Regler) für eine längere Flugzeit. Mechanisch/elektrischer Aufbau der neuen Konfiguration und Bestätigung durch Flugtests.
  2. 2D-Tracking: Entwurf und Implementierung eines Software-Bildverarbeitungssystems zur Marker-Erkennung und Beeinflussung des Flugpfades. Bildeinzug/-verarbeitung und Reglerberechnung erfolgen auf dem Payload-Rechner (Linux), die errechneten Stellsignale werden von dort an den Flug-Rechner übergeben. Parametrierung von Bildverarbeitung/Regelung und Validierung durch Flugtests.
  3. Link Management: Erhöhung der Zuverlässigkeit der Funkstrecken zwischen Copter und Bodenstation durch Bündelung von Kanälen und Traffic Priorisierung. Design und Implementierung eines konfigurierbaren Regelkatalogs und Vermessung der resultierenden Performance während Flugtests.

Themen SS15

Folgende Themengebiete wurden im SS2015 angeboten:

  1. Konfigurations- und Monitoring-Subsystem: Entwurf und Implementierung eines Software-Subsystems zur Manipulation und Wiedergabe von Konfigurationsparametern bzw. Statuswerten der Anwendungen auf dem Payload-Rechner.
  2. Funkstrecken-Charakterisierung: Systematisches Vermessen und Modellieren der vorhandenen RF-Links zwischen Copter und Ground-Station.
  3. Flugtestinstrumentierung: Entwurf und Implementierung eines modularen Sensorsystems zur Erfassung zusätzlicher Messdaten während Testflügen.

Themen WS14/15

Folgende Themengebiete standen im WS2014/15 zur Auswahl - Thema 1 musste dabei abgedeckt werden, da es als Basis für nachfolgende Projekte dient:

  1. Interface Flug-/Payload-Rechner: Ermöglichen des Einspeisens von Missionsbefehlen vom onboard-Rechner aus (bisher nur von Ground Station möglich), sowie der Zwischenspeicherung von Telemetriedaten.
  2. Flugzeitabschätzung: Berechnung und Test der Effizienz des elektrischen Antriebssystems, mit dem Ziel der Flugzeitprädiktion und Flugzeitmaximierung in Abhängigkeit von verschiedenen Lasten.
  3. Video-Downlink: Auswahl und Integration von Komponenten (Modems, Kamera, etc.), sowie Implemtierung von geeigneten Kompressions-/Downsampling-Algorithmen, um ein qualitativ hochwertiges Onboard-Live-Video am Boden zu empfangen.
  4. Flug-Log-Datenbank: Entwurf und Implementierung einer Datenbank zur Speicherung und Abfrage von vorhandenen Flugdaten.
  5. Modellierung Flugdynamik: Aufbau eines Modells, welches das Verhalten des Copters in Reaktion auf Steuereingänge nachbildet, und Verifikation mit Flugtests.
  6. WLAN QoS: Profilierung einer WLAN Verbindung unter verschiedenen Rahmenbedingungen und Entwicklung eines SW-Moduls, dass die Auswirkungen verschiedener Verbindungsprofile auf Paketebene simulieren kann.

Eigene Themen können ebenfalls vorgeschlagen werden.


This module is comprising both ungraded course achievements (creation and presentation of project plan, mid-term presentation and final presentation) and a graded final report (description of problem-solving, project organisation and technical solution).

Required Knowledge

We expect all participants to familiarize with the following topics before attending this lab (suitable modules given in parentheses):

  • Basics in the area of embedded systems (modules Real-Time and Embedded Systems and Praktikum Mikroprozessorsysteme)
  • Scientific working methods: research, analysis and documentation of technical solutions, as well as presentation skills (Advanced Seminar)
  • Working with Linux systems


Questions, suggestions and ideas for this module can be sent to the KEES team.