In case of engine failure, skilled pilots can save a helicopter from crashing by executing an emergency procedure known as autorotation. In autorotation, rather than relying on the engine to drive the main rotor, the pilot has to control the helicopter such that potential energy from altitude is transferred to rotor speed. In fact, maintaining a sufficiently high rotor speed is critical to retain sufficient control of the helicopter to land safely. In this paper, we present the first autonomous controller to successfully pilot a remotely controlled (RC) helicopter during an autorotation descent and landing.

Full Paper

Autonomous Autorotation of an RC Helicopter, Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates, Timothy Hunter, and Andrew Y. Ng. To appear in ISER, 2008. [pdf]


The videos below show our autonomous autorotations.
Autorotation descent and landing [mp4 (960x540), mp4 (640x360)]
Autorotation descent [mp4 (1024x720), mp4 (640x450)]