Automated Real-Time Volcanic Plume Interception for UAVs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


This paper presents a method for coordinating volcanic plume interception using a fixed wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), developed for practical use over Volcan de Feugo, Guatemala. A series of techniques have previously been developed for operating in this area, spanning 60 flights since February 2017, targeting the collection of ash from within plumes in order to analyse the ash Particle Size Distribution (PSD). Collecting multiple ash samples per flight allows comparison of ash PSD between the plume immediately after eruption and after some significant time has elapsed (i.e. 5 - 25 minutes). A Coordinated Plume Interception (CPI) scheme is presented here which automates these interceptions within the context and limitations of operating around Volcan de Fuego, taking into consideration the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight zone limits. Five methods are presented, compared in terms of efficiency and robustness, and assessed for flight zone compatibility. The methods are tested using software in the loop, and a tiered scheme is suggested for future flight testing and use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA ScieTech Forum
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021
Event2021 AIAA SciTech Forum - Virtual Event
Duration: 4 Jan 202115 Jan 2021


Conference2021 AIAA SciTech Forum
Internet address


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