Today’s UAVs are being tasked to fly missions in increasingly difficult environments. Buildings, trees and thin wires form challenging terrain for the UAV to negotiate. The current paradigm of UAV research typically moves from computer simulation and individual subsystem testing to full integration in the field. The reactions of control algorithms to realistic sensor data are difficult to capture in simulation and can result in costly crashes. This paper introduces a methodic approach to developing UAV missions. A scaled down urban environment provides a facility to perform testing and evaluation (T&E) on control algorithms before flight. A UAV platform and test site allow the tuned control algorithms to be verified and validated (V&V) in real world flights. The resulting design methodology reduces risk in the development of UAV missions.

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