PIXHAWK -A micro aerial vehicle design for autonomous flight using onboard computer vision

Lorenz Meier*, Petri Tanskanen, Lionel Heng, Gim Hee Lee, Friedrich Fraundorfer, Marc Pollefeys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a novel quadrotor Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) system that is designed to use computer vision algorithms within the flight control loop. The main contribution is a MAV system that is able to run both the vision-based flight control and stereo-vision-based obstacle detection parallelly on an embedded computer onboard the MAV. The system design features the integration of a powerful onboard computer and the synchronization of IMU-Vision measurements by hardware timestamping which allows tight integration of IMU measurements into the computer vision pipeline. We evaluate the accuracy of marker-based visual pose estimation for flight control and demonstrate marker-based autonomous flight including obstacle detection using stereo vision. We also show the benefits of our IMU-Vision synchronization for egomotion estimation in additional experiments where we use the synchronized measurements for pose estimation using the 2pt+gravity formulation of the PnP problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-39
Number of pages19
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Computer vision
  • Micro aerial vehicles
  • Quadrotor
  • Stereo vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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