Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Wilfrido Moreno, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kimon Valavanis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James T. Leffew, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paris Wiley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Wallace, Ph.D.

Committee Member

MaryAnne Fields, Ph.D.


Field Programmable Gate Array, Unmanned systems, Embedded systems, Analog design, UGV


Unmanned vehicles, both ground and aerial, have become prevalent in recent years. The research community has different needs than the industrial community when designing a finalized unmanned system since the vehicle, the sensors and the control design are dynamic and change frequently as new ideas are developed and implemented.

Current autopilot hardware, which is available as on-the-market products and proposed in research, is sufficient for unmanned systems design. However, this equipment falls short of being able to accommodate the needs of those in the research community who must be able to quickly implement new ideas on a flexible platform.

The contribution of this research is the realization of a hardware platform, which provides for rapid implementation of newly developed theory. Rapid implementation is gained by providing for software development from within the Simulink environment and utilizing previously unrealized flexibility in sensor selection. In addition to the development of the hardware platform, research was performed within Simulink's System Generator environment in order to complement the hardware. The software produced consists of a user template that integrates to the selected hardware. The template creates a user friendly environment, which provides the end user the capability to develop software algorithms from within the Simulink environment. This capability facilitates the final step of full hardware implementation.

The major novelty of the research was the overall FPGA based autopilot design. The approach provided flexibility, functionality and generality. The approach is also suitable for and applicable to the design of multiple platforms. This research yielded a first time approach to the development of an unmanned systems autopilot platform by utilizing:

-Development of programmable voltage level digital Input/Output (I/O), ports,

-Utilization of Field Programmable Analog Arrays (FPAA), -Hardware capabilities to allow for integration with full computer systems,

-A full Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), implementation,

-Full integration of the hardware within Simulink's System Generator Toolbox