Welcome

cropped-plane-curt-e13557616284751.jpg

I am a software/aerospace engineer working at the University of Minnesota Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department.  My degree is in computer science.  I have been building and flying model airplanes since I was a geeky kid.  In 1996 I was one of the co-founders of the FlightGear project (an open-source flight simulator.)  In the mid-2000’s I started getting involved with UAV’s and have participated in UAV projects through Airborne Technologies, Inc. in Alaska, NOAA, Lockheed Martin, the University of Minnesota, and now Sentera (a cool local Minnesota UAV company.)

I use this site as a virtual scrapbook and occasionally post longer messages about things I’m interested in or working on.

You are welcome to follow me on google plus where I might post shorter blurbs or pictures more frequently: https://plus.google.com/+CurtisOlson/posts

(October 2015) Recently I have been doing quite a bit of work developing an open-source image stitching pipeline.  I plan to write a series of introductory articles on the process of image stitching and also as a tutorial for others interested in running my code.

(October 2015) I started building my very first multi-rotor (a mini tri copter from an rcexplorer.se).  So far I’ve been really impressed with the quality and care that has gone into the design.

I have added quite a bit of content to this site over the years which you can find through the menus and categories in the side bar.  Here are a few of my recent posts for starters:

  • Autopilot Visualization: Flight Track (2/13/2017) -   Augmented reality Everything in this post shows real imagery taken from a real camera from a real uav which is really in flight.  Hopefully that is obvious, but I just want to point out I’m not cheating.  However, with a bit of math and a bit of camera calibration work, and a fairly accurate EKF, …
  • Zombie Door (1/21/2017) - Run!!! Zombies are pretty cool.  This post describes something a little less cool, but uses zombies to explain the concept (in a shallow, transparent attempt to capture your attention!) Zombie Door Method Imagine we want to generate a uniformly distributed random sampling in some complex space that our random number generator does not directly support. …
  • Failure is not fatal (1/10/2017) - This post is penned during a moment of extreme frustration, beware! Kobayashi Maru https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru One of the reasons I loved the original Star Trek series is because no matter what the odds, no matter how hopeless the circumstances, no matter how impossible the foe, Captain Kirk always found a way to think his way out of …
  • Synthetic Air Data (an afternoon hack) (12/15/2016) - Motivation On June 1, 2009 Air France flight #447 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean.  The subsequent investigation concluded “that the aircraft crashed after temporary inconsistencies between the airspeed measurements – likely due to the aircraft’s pitot tubes being obstructed by ice crystals – caused the autopilot to disconnect, after which the crew reacted incorrectly and ultimately …
  • Howto: Action Cam HUD overlay (12/1/2016) - NOTICE: This is a draft document and in the process of being written.  It is incomplete and subject to change at any time without notice.   In this post I share my process and tools for creating HUD overlays on a flight video.  Here is a quick overview of the process: (1) Calibrate your camera, …