Aircraft Fleet

GeoSurv II Prototype

In co-operation with Sander Geophysics, the Carleton undergraduate UAV project is in the process of designing and manufacturing GeoSurv II, a small, sub 200 lb, all-composite UAV. The intended mission of GeoSurv II is to perform geomagnetic surveys, using a pair of  sensitive cesuim magnetometers mounted on its wing tips. Such surveys are extremely important for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration, and are frequently used, in conjunction with gravitational surveys, to determine prime locations to perform more expensive seismic surveying.

GeoSurv II as initially manufactured. Note that the empennage and landing gear have undergone substantial revisions

GeoSurv II Initial Design

GeoSurv II has been designed to be magnetically neutral to prevent interference with the highly sensitive magnetic imaging hardware on-board. This includes design choices such as using only titanium geared servo actuators, all-composite structure, and a general avoidance of ferromagnetic materials.

The design of GeoSurv II includes all components required for autonomous flight, centered around the powerful Micropilot autopilot board. The Micropilot features an advanced suite of instrumentation capabilities, including an array of pressure sensors, gyros, accelerometers, and GPS positioning sensors. Then, once programmed with its mission parameters, the Micropilot can take over all flight operations, including take-off and landing, and perform its mission with no operator intervention. First flights of GeoSurv II will be performed under radio control, with the Micropilot acting as a data acquisition agent on-board.

Components for GeoSurv II, including a new V- empennage and advanced composite landing gear, are currently in manufacture. Upon completion of manufacture, and completion of various required ground testing, GeoSurv II will be prepared for its first flight under radio control.

GeoSurv II Rendering with V-Empennage and Composite Landing Gear

Corvus Rook Demonstrator

The Corvus Rook Demonstrator (“Corvus”) is the second major unmanned aircraft project undertaken by the Carleton undergraduate UAV team. Corvus is a small, sub-50 lb UAV designed for adaptability to a wide variety of payloads. Its primary mission is for the testing of various aircraft sensor systems and other airborne research at Carleton University, with the ability to be quickly adapted for missions as they may arise.

Corvus Rook Demonstrator as conceptually designed. Final manufactured design featured a simplified fuselage nose shape and a T-Empennage

Corvus Rook Demonstrator Conceptual Design

Corvus features an all-electric design: a large electric motor is used in place of a traditional gas engine, allowing for large weight savings when compared to a the gas-powered piston engine used in GeoSurv II. Corvus was manufactured with a combination of an aluminum airframe and composite wing/empennage construction.

Corvus underwent its first flight under radio control in November 2013:


Corvus Demonstrator during first flight

Corvus Rook Demonstrator during first flight

Next for Corvus is an optimization of the airframe, and re-wiring to provide full autopilot control.

Test Bed Aircraft

In addition to the Corvus and GeoSurv aircraft which were designed from first principles, the Carleton undergraduate UAV team also maintains a fleet of test bed aircraft for various component testing, instrument calibration, and project team familiarization with flight testing purposes and procedures. These aircraft are off-the-shelf, hobby grade aircraft. Currently active in our fleet are:


ATB-6 / ATB-7

ATB-6 and ATB-7 are identical foam-construction test bed aircraft, manufactured in Winter 2013. They are purposed with testing of a lower-cost Ardupilot board as a potential replacement for the Micropilot flight system.



This aircraft is a larger scale hobby aircraft, originally purposed with testing of the Micropilot boards prior to install on the GeoSurv II and Corvus platforms. Currently, ATB-10 is being used as a platform for data acquisition to formalize flight performance manoeuvres and calculations. It underwent a wiring overhaul in Winter 2013 in preparation for its data acquisition flights.

ATB 10_fligh test


This aircraft, originally created as a platform to test gas-powered engine procedures, is currently undergoing a gas-to-electric conversion to compare the feasibility of the gas design versus the electric design.

ATB51 atb52

Posted by . Last modified on March 5, 2014.