• Research

    Dynamics and control
    Autonomous aerial systems
    Applied aerodynamics

    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.

  • Publications

    Please click here for a list of publications.

  • 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
  • Awards and Honors

    2009 – AIAA Associate Fellow
    2004-2010 – AIAA Distinguished Lecture Program Participant
    2004 – Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Educator Award
    2003 – Pilot of the Reproduction Wright Flyer, Centennial of Flight Celebration, Kitty Hawk, NC
    2003 – Aviation Week and Space Technology Aerospace Laureate
    2003 – Soaring Society of America, Paul E. Tuntland Historical Award
    1998 – Society of Automotive Engineers Teetor Educational Award


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

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

Laboratory — Unmanned Systems Lab (USL)

Kevin Kochersberger

Associate Professor