Lightweight UAV Sensing and Control System

Center: Langley Research Center

Category: Robotics, Automation and Control

Patent: 7,962,252

Inventor: Qamar Shams


NASA Technology Page

Invention Overview:

A lightweight UAV sensing and control system. Essentially a "mother board" fitted for one pound or less drones and nano-drones with <6-inch wing spans. The system is light weight and utilizes less energy than current systems. Additionally, it is able to run off solar power. This technology allows for long flight segments or long sampling times for scientific monitoring due to is power-saving capabilities



System/subsystem/component validation in relevant environment. Prototyping implementations on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrated with existing systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated in actual system application.



Chiefly created for small UAVs, but also works with large UAVs. Useful for monitoring, surveillance, and delivery



  • Uses microscopic sensors and actuators, which immensely reduce size and weight of sensing and control systems for UAVs
  • Devices are readily manufactured, cheap, easily solar-powered, and adaptable for UAVs of any size
  • Can be used to direct micro air vehicles (e.g. insect drones) and has greater sensing abilities than a Honeywell HG1930 IMU

Invention Disadvantages and Possible Mitigation:

Though the current UAV market is crowded, current competition costs too much and is much heavier.  LAR-TOPS-33 will need to market light weight and power saving capabilities to beat the market