Technical Teams

The UCSD Autonomous Airplane team is broken down into five technical divisions following standard industry practice. Each team is managed by a student lead with at least a full year on the team and experience in their discipline.


Responsible for building the airplane. Without Airframe we do not have anything in the air. Airframe conducts the structural, aerodynamic, and systems design of the air vehicle and then fabricates it. Airframe includes composite spar design, aerodynamic analysis of different airfoil schemes and wing design, propulsion, landing gear, bulkhead design, and composite fabrication.


Responsible for all of the hardware not covered by Airframe. This includes projects on the plane and on the ground. Mechatronics’ larger projects include the ground station case, DSLR camera gimbal, payload integration, and payload wire harnessing.

Embedded Systems

Responsible for all circuitry and programmable hardware. Embedded Systems designs all of the communication systems, gimbal control, the autopilot system, all sensors and actuators, the power system, the flight computer, and imaging.


Responsible for all ground station & related software. Software has built the entire image processing chain from the ground up, allowing targets to automatically be identified and extracted from aerial imagery. Software also works on automated image stitching, the UAV GUI, remote client applications, and virtual mission simulation.

RC Piloting

Our team would not get far if not for our pilots. RC Piloting is responsible for piloting during all test flights, whether we have the autopilot in control or not. The RC Pilot has the ability to take over control at all times in the event of any system failure. Our pilots practice regularly and build their own RC airframes.