Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Juan R. Vasquez, PhD


The ability of moths to locate a member of the opposite sex, by tracking a wind-borne plume of odor molecules, is an amazing reality. Numerous scenarios exist where having this capability embedded into ground-based or aerial vehicles would be invaluable. The main crux of this thesis investigation is the development of a navigation algorithm which gives a UAV the ability to track a chemical plume to its source. Inspiration from the male moth's, in particular Manduca sexta, ability to successfully track a female's pheromone plume was used in the design of both 2-D and 3-D navigation algorithms. The algorithms were developed to guide autonomous vehicles to the source of a chemical plume. The algorithms were implemented using a variety of fuzzy controllers and ad hoc engineering approaches. The fuzzy controller was developed to estimate the location of a vehicle relative to the plume: coming into the plume, in the plume, exiting the plume, or out of the plume. The 2-D algorithm had a 60% to 90% success rate in reaching the source while certain versions of 3-D algorithm had success rates from 50% to 100%.

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