Hovering Locomotion for UAVs with Thrust-Vectoring Control Surfaces

Travis N Henderson, Favour Ryan, Benjamin Hamlen, Imraan Mitha, Erika Bowe, Nikos Papanikolopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This letter presents a working prototype of a quad-rotor with control surfaces positioned in the propulsive slipstreams. The control surfaces provide a unique potential to redirect the air flow from the propulsion systems and produce lateral forces at a level attitude. This approach to locomotion has many useful applications in different areas of aerial sensing. Furthermore, the mechanical approach of using control surfaces for this purpose is unique, to the best of the authors' knowledge; until this point, most aerial robot designs that have this locomotion capability make exclusive use of motors and propellers to exert lateral forces. The use of control surfaces in a propeller slipstream poses a potentially useful actuation mode for aerial vehicle designs that have control surfaces. The letter investigates lateral forces from redirected slipstreams as part of a larger development of the Multi-Section (MIST) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at the University of Minnesota. The paper connects theoretical models with experiments on a testbed and a working prototype that demonstrate feasibility and characterize the force-production capability of slipstream-washed control surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5214-5221
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

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  • Aerial systems: mechanics and control
  • field robotics
  • motion control


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