UAV consumable replenishment: Design concepts for automated service stations

F. Paulo Kemper, Koji A.O. Suzuki, James R. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


A key requirement for the complete autonomy of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is the replenishment of its energy source and other consumables. Such processes are typically overseen and conducted by a human operator, may be time consuming and effectively reduce the operating range of the system. To satisfy the requirements of UAV customers such as military surveillance networks, that seek faster, broader and more fully autonomous systems, and hobbyists, who seek to avoid the hassle associated with changing the fuel source, we develop automated energy recharging systems. Focusing on battery operated remote control helicopters, we employ the Axiomatic Design methodology to develop design concepts of platforms to act as automatic service stations. We propose three station designs for refilling platforms and one concept for battery exchange platforms. In addition, we analyze the economic feasibility of automatic consumable replenishment stations, consider two types of station (container refilling and container exchange) and discuss the application of these systems. Refilling platforms better suit low coverage unmanned aerial systems (UAS) while exchange stations allow high coverage with fewer UAVs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-397
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems: Theory and Applications
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Automated consumable replenishment
  • Autonomy
  • Axiomatic Design
  • Enabling technologies
  • Service stations
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles


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