Kevin Kochersberger

Associate Professor

(540) 231-5589 
119 Randolph Hall (0710)
460 Old Turner Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061

VT Unmanned Systems Lab



  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1994
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1984
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1983


Professional History

2011 – present, Virginia Tech, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor

2006 – 2011, Virginia Tech, Department of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering, Research Associate Professor

2000 – 2006, Rochester Institute of Technology, Associate Professor


Research Areas of Expertise

Dynamics and control

Autonomous aerial systems

Applied aerodynamics


Research Interests

Unmanned Aerial Sensing and Sampling

Using an autonomous helicopter that weighs 200 lbs, the lab is designing and building imaging and sensing payloads to analyze blast areas. Mission level architecture includes operator-in-the-loop control of the aircraft and a ground robotic system designed to collect samples via tether deployment from the helicopter. Payloads include stereo and mono vision systems, a radiation detector, and a ground robotic sampler. Research areas are focused in stereo and monofocal 3-D mapping methods, robotic control, and system design and integration. Human factors are an interest in the operation of complex autonomous systems where mission time is critical.

Morphing Wing Aircraft Design

The use of macro fiber composite actuators for conformal control of wings and control surfaces is opening up new possibilities in air vehicle design. In particular, these actuators show low drag and high lift performance in addition to higher bandwidth response than what is possible with conventional servo-driven actuators. Applications of this technology include morphing wing aircraft and active flow control in ducts. I am interested in pursuing tailored aero structures that are designed to complement smart material function, reducing the weight of airframes and increasing maneuvering agility.

Novel Aerial Robotic Applications

We are exploring novel heterogeneous robotic sensing and control strategies for helicopter, fixed wing and ground robotic systems. Examples include use of aerial imagery for ground robotic path planning, object classification using aerial and ground-based imaging, and use of smartphone technology for sensing and imaging.

Professional Leadership


Professional Affiliations


Awards and Honors

2009 AIAA Associate Fellow

AIAA 2004 – 2010 Distinguished Lecture Program Participant

Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Educator Award, 2004

Pilot of the Reproduction Wright Flyer, Centennial of Flight Celebration, Kitty Hawk, NC, December 17, 2003

Aviation Week and Space Technology Aerospace Laureate, 2003

Soaring Society of America, Paul E. Tuntland Historical Award, 2003

Society of Automotive Engineers Teetor Educational Award, 1998