System design of a remotely operated UAV within a segregated flight test range

Remote Staging for BLOS UAV (Masters in Engineering)

Client: Aeronavics Limited
Technology supervisor: Graeme Woodward (SERC)
Academic supervisor: TBC

Applications are invited for the following Master's degree project within the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering.


The operation of UAVs at ranges such that they are beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot (BLOS) poses a number of significant challenges. However, BLOS operations also represent the greatest opportunity for UAVs to add value, especially in the case of ‘remote staging’ where the aircraft is permanently stationed in the field and is launched, navigated, retrieved and recharged without handling by a person on site.


This project will develop a demonstrative test system capable of performing a mission using remote staging of a multi-rotor UAV within segregated airspace: the project will culminate in the successful demonstration of multiple back to back long range flights and recharging cycles, at the SERC UAV test range, while entirely tele‑operated from the university campus.


  • Investigate and design the complete system and demonstration mission, including ground-side and non-technical elements.
  • Integrate a client provided aircraft into the overall system, including the development of any necessary software to support teleoperation of the aircraft.
  • Either source or develop a suitable remote charging station, and oversee the installation of this station at the test site, and integrate the charging station into the overall system.
  • Develop any necessary communication or support elements required to support teleoperation using the system.
  • Carry our test flights using the system. Supported by the client, perform all necessary flight planning and administration tasks necessary to support test and demonstration flights, such as engaging with the CAA and Air Traffic Control.


The suitable candidate will have a background in engineering, with strengths and interests in mechatronics, embedded systems, avionics and programming.

Scholarship and duration

The candidate may receive a stipend of $30000 tax-free, with the course fees being the responsibility of the student. The duration of the project will be eighteen months, and he/she will work mainly within, and use facilities of the Spatial Engineering Research Centre, including the Birdlings Flat test site.

There may be some opportunity to work with the client at their site, and at other flight test sites in New Zealand.

Submission of applications

This opportunity will be open until filled, but the preferred start date is February 2016.
Candidates shall submit the following documents by email to Graeme Woodward, Research Lead, Spatial Engineering Research Centre

  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • An A4 page typed statement about how your experience or interests relate to the chosen project.
  • A reference from a supervisor or lecturer (or referee details).
  • A copy of your current academic grades transcript.

Please ensure you include: full legal name, postal address, email address, telephone/mobile number, programme and year of study and student number.


  • College of Science reserves the right to not award the stipend if a suitable candidate is not found. 
  • Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the UC project supervisors and the client.
  • Candidates must meet the University of Canterbury enrolment criteria for postgraduate study. 
  • Stipend subject to the successful contract agreement with the client, once a suitable candidate is identified.