As part of a class project, OSU students designed search-and-rescue UAVs to look for Pete, a lost hiker.

Students in Oklahoma State University’s unmanned aerial systems degree program have designed two practical unmanned aerial vehicles as part of their UAS Design and Analysis course.

The first is a vehicle designed to intercept and measure important meteorological parameters in severe thunderstorms.  Called MARIA for Mesoscale Analysis and Research Investigation Aircraft, the vehicle deploys quickly and can be flown into the lower parts of developing super cells to improve understanding of storm systems.

“The unmanned aircraft is designed to penetrate thunderstorms and obtain vital meteorological data for weather forecasting,” says Professor Jamey Jacob.  “This data can be used for both immediate forecasts of the storm’s path and strength as well as for predictive models to aid meteorologists in their understanding of tornado genesis.”

In the second project, student teams designed, developed and flew a small UAS to search a field for targets.  “Teams were required to fly an autonomous course and return images and GPS coordinates for various scenarios, including a lost hiker known as Pete,” says Jacob.   “Teams were provided a modest budget to use for their payload and system design.”

OSU has the first (and currently only) UAS degree option at the graduate level in the nation.  The option provides students with a recognized emphasis in instruction and research and supplies them with hands-on analysis, design, construction and flight testing of UAS platforms.  More information can be found at

OSU students design storm-penetrating, search and rescue UAVs

OSU students Alyssa Avery, Ryan Gifford, Calvin Brown and David Grismore analyze data during a test flight of their UAV to determine locations during the search and rescue scenario.


OSU students design storm-penetrating, search and rescue UAVs

OSU students Zac Zaloudek, Fred Keating and Ryan Gifford watch as their UAV flies overhead searching for the rescue victim.

OSU students design storm-penetrating, search and rescue UAVs

OSU student John Sievert prepares to launch his unmanned plane.


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