Leicester students design and build fully operational search and rescue UAV

University of Leicester Engineering students have designed and manufactured an unmanned aerial vehicle for aiding in search and rescue efforts.
Leicester students design and build fully operational search and rescue UAV

UAV developed by Leicester Engineering students.

The project team, consisting of MEng Engineering students Murali Thoppil, Andreas Chrysanthou, Wesley Ngo, Ritika Shukla, Andreas Constantinou and Jaja Isaiah, designed and produced the UAV as part of their fourth year group project. Applying skills developed throughout their engineering courses at the University of Leicester, the team generated and evaluated concepts, produced component and assembly drawings, before manufacturing and testing their UAV.

Murali Thoppil, Project Manager said:

"The project really gave us a better understanding of how to work together as a team in order to achieve the required goal. It also allowed us to put into practise all the theory we've learnt during lectures."


Flight tests were carried out at Leicester Model Aero Club to fly the aircraft. The UAV was built and tested to ensure that it was capable of flying autonomously while transmitting live video footage of the surrounding area back to the user. It was seen that the aircraft was able to follow preset checkpoints without any external control while transmitting live video footage to the user. Once the 'mission' was completed, the aircraft then flew back to the home position where a human controller landed it safely – much like UAVs that are required to operate in search and rescue environments around the world.

See how the UAV was developed and tested.

Autonomous and radio-controlled aircraft are increasingly being used to aid in search and rescue efforts around the world; often being required to operate for extended periods of time, or in hazardous environments, which a human pilot could not endure.

Flights tests, conducted by the project team, determined that the UAV could operate at a height of 70 metres and speeds of up to 18 m/s (65 km/h or 40 mph). As the aircraft was capable of flying in autopilot mode it could follow a pre-determined flight path by itself without the need for human intervention.

This would mean that in emergency situations, such as forest fires or earthquakes, a fleet of these aircraft could transmit live video footage of their respective critical areas to a ground station in order to look for missing and injured people. The advantages of using a UAV in these type of situations are faster response times and thus reducing the risk to human life.

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