Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles

What is MAAV?
MAAV strives to provide practical, hands-on experience for students by competing annually in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) . Members of MAAV engage in the design, building, and testing of an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) while furthering multiple areas of Computer Science and Aerospace Engineering research.

Learning by

Members use the theory learned in classes to design, manufacture, program, and test an entire robotic system from the ground up, relying as little on prefabricated components as possible.

Covering all
our bases

Members gain experience and apply skills in areas such as structural design and manufacturing, embedded programming, control theory, navigation and mapping, and computer vision.


Members are exposed to professional tools and infrastructure not experienced in the classroom, such as multi-user version control, project management tools, and continuous integration systems.

What is

Learn more about the current and past missions of the International Aerial Robotics Competition by clicking here.

MAAV is divided into four subteams.


Structures is responsible for the design and fabrication of MAAV's airframes. We make as many of our structural components as we can in-house in order to heavily optimize for the IARC. We use a mixture of aluminum and wax molds for the carbon fiber parts of the airframe, milled plastic for the heavy duty core, and 3D printing for the accessories to create a strong, light airframe that can withstand intense aerial maneuvers and crashes. We use CATIA for design and simulation and Subversion for collaboration.


Circuits designs and builds both the vehicle's electrical hardware and various other electrical hardware, such as electronics for testing motors and materials. The vehicle's printed circuit board (PCB) has to provide a platform for the control software to run and communicate with the navigation software, as well as manage the safety of the battery, motors, and operators. We design with Eagle and use Subversion for collaboration.


Our UAV requires an accurate, high-speed control algorithm to achieve stable flight and maintain safety for operators. The controls subteam designs, implements, and tests our control software. This software takes instructions from the navigation software and moves the vehicle accordingly. If there is no navigation software running, the control software maintains a steady state. Our control software is written in C and runs on a microcontroller. We use Git for source code version control.


The IARC is first and foremost an autonomy challenge; the members of the Navigation subteam write software that makes the vehicle truly autonomous. We write computer vision code, path planning code, and the high level decision making code that decides which objective of the competition to work on next while the vehicle is flying. Navigation also researches dedicated hardware solutions to various image processing and navigation tasks. We write code using C++, use Git for version control, and use the Jenkins continuous integration server.

Meet our team leads!

James Holper

James is a junior studying Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. Aside from leading the structural design subteam of MAAV, he enjoys playing guitar and some occasional gaming. He plans to graduate in May of 2016.

Jason Leung

Jason is studying Computer Engineering, concentrating in embedded systems and robotics, as well as pursuing a minor in Art and Design. Although mainly responsible for MAAV's electronics, he is well versed in software engineering as well as graphic design, leading projects such as updating MAAV's logo. His passions in computer engineering and design will lead him into future endeavors advancing the state of the art in personal electronics and swarm robotics. He will be graduating in 2016 with a BSE in Computer Engineering.

Sajan Patel

Sajan is studying Computer Science Engineering, focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics. Besides tackling many unique challenges as MAAV's controls software lead, he is a percussionist on the Michigan Drumline and also studies India's ancient Vedic culture. He enjoys working with autonomous robots, and he hopes to pursue his passion of exploring that field during graduate study and as a career after he graduates with his Bachelor's degree in May 2016.

Alec Ten Harmsel

Alec started programming just before entering high school. Besides enjoying MAAV's unique challenges, he enjoys high performance computing and farming. He will (hopefully) graduate in May 2016 with a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering.


Our sponsors generously provide the resources MAAV needs for both research and manufacturing. MAAV gladly thanks the organizations and people within them that make our work possible.

Northrop Grumman University of Michigan College of Engineering Saleae Saturn Electronics Lockheed Martin 3D Robotics

If you're interested in sponsoring us, please contact the leads at maav-leads@umich.edu

Joining MAAV

Joining MAAV is as simple as joining the mailing list and going to workdays and meetings. Every Saturday is a work day in the Wilson Center, and all our subteam meetings during the week are announced on the mailing list. Link to join is below:

Contact us