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Dr Kieran Wood

Dr Kieran Wood

Dr Kieran Wood

Senior Research Associate in Advanced Aerial Resources for the Nuclear Industry

Area of research

Unmanned Aerial Systems in Extreme Environments

Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
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+44 (0) 117 33 15523


Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), a.k.a. ‘drones’ are quickly becoming a useful research tool with many applications for environmental monitoring. My research focuses on the design and operations of UAS in environments that are inhospitable to life: at this time volcanic and nuclear sites. Long-range UAS are an ideal solution to monitoring and surveying in these situations since a human operator can remain in a safe location while the vehicle is at risk. My previous Ph.D. work focused on autonomous indoor flight for small multi-rotor type vehicles, whilst my current post-doc role explores the use of both larger multi-rotors and fixed-wing types.

For effective monitoring at long-range in extreme environments, the vehicle must be semi-independent; able to operate with minimal human supervision. This presents a significant control and automation challenge since measurement payloads are most effective when in close proximity to their target. I investigate the vehicle design and control algorithms needed to reliably and accurately position the vehicle and its sensor payload.

A key part of my work is enabling safe beyond visual line-of-site (BVLOS) flights. This is achieved through regular outdoor flight testing and field applications. Updates from my research and flight operations can be found on Twitter @DrKieranWood.


Dr Kieran Wood is a researcher in the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Bristol directly supporting projects lead by South West Nuclear Robotics Hub. He obtained his M.Eng. degree in Bristol from the Aerospace department in 2009, and then remained to undertake a Ph.D. focusing on the control of indoor micro aerial vehicles. After being awarded his PhD in 2013 he moved into an industry job designing control systems for fly-by-wire helicopters at Agusta-Westland. In 2015 he returned to the University of Bristol becoming a Research Associate with a strong focus on Unmanned Aerial Systems with projects covering sensors, actuation, control systems, and outdoor operations.

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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