A major challenge for mission planning of aircraft is to generate flight paths in highly dynamic environments. This paper presents a new approach for online flight path planning with flight time constraints for fixed-wing UAVs. The flight paths must take into account the kinematic restrictions of the vehicle and be collision-free with terrain, obstacles and no-fly areas. Moreover, the flight paths are subject to time constraints such as predetermined time of arrival at the target or arrival within a specified time interval.
The proposed flight path planning algorithm is an evolution of the well-known RRT* algorithm. It uses three-dimensional Dubins paths to reflect the flight capabilities of the air vehicle. Requirements for the flight time are realized by skillfully concatenating two rapidly exploring random trees rooted in the start and target point, respectively.
The approach allows to consider static obstacles, obstacles which might pop up unexpectedly, as well as moving obstacles. Targets might be static or moving with constantly changing course. Even a change of the target during flight, a change of the target approach direction or a change of the requested time of arrival is included.
The capability of the flight path algorithm is demonstrated by simulation results. Response times of fractions of a second qualify the algorithm for real-time applications in highly dynamic scenarios.
Babel, L. (2021), "Online flight path planning with flight time constraints for fixed-wing UAVs in dynamic environments", International Journal of Intelligent Unmanned Systems, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJIUS-11-2020-0063
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