Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems

Autonomous sailboat
eSPAARO aerial vehicle
SPAARO aerial vehicle

VaCAS Spotlight

Student team debuts at autonomous sailboat competition

A team of Virginia Tech engineering undergraduates is competing for the first time at the SailBot International Robotic Sailing Regatta in San Francisco June 7-13.

VaCAS faculty Wayne Neu and Dan Stilwell serve as faculty advisors for the SailBOT team, which was established in spring 2013 by members of the Virginia Tech Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. The U.S. Naval Academy provided guidance and loaned the team a hull for its initial work.

VaCAS unmanned aircraft platform redesigned with electric power source

The VaCAS Small Platform for Autonomous Aerial Research Operations (SPAARO) has been redesigned to be powered by electricity rather than gasoline. Additional design changes improve safety and reliability, and make the new eSPAARO easier to set up and repair.

The eSPAARO was designed by the Virginia Tech Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site’s chief engineer, John Coggin, and will be used at the site.

Virginia Tech’s unmanned aerial vehicle
research featured on C-SPAN

Craig Woolsey, VaCAS director, and Jon Greene, Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership interim executive director, were interviewed for C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Program.

Woolsey discussed the history of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), current challenges in developing reliable autonomous systems, and regulatory concerns.

Greene talked about Virginia Tech’s unmanned aircraft systems test site, one of six sites chosen by the FAA to lead UAV research.