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Article

Annette Mossel, Michael Leichtfried, Christoph Kaltenriner and Hannes Kaufmann

The authors present a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for autonomous flight and navigation in GPS-denied environments using an off-the-shelf smartphone as its core…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors present a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for autonomous flight and navigation in GPS-denied environments using an off-the-shelf smartphone as its core on-board processing unit. Thereby, the approach is independent from additional ground hardware and the UAV core unit can be easily replaced with more powerful hardware that simplifies setup updates as well as maintenance. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The UAV is able to map, locate and navigate in an unknown indoor environment fusing vision-based tracking with inertial and attitude measurements. The authors choose an algorithmic approach for mapping and localization that does not require GPS coverage of the target area; therefore autonomous indoor navigation is made possible.

Findings

The authors demonstrate the UAVs capabilities of mapping, localization and navigation in an unknown 2D marker environment. The promising results enable future research on 3D self-localization and dense mapping using mobile hardware as the only on-board processing unit.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed autonomous flight processing pipeline robustly tracks and maps planar markers that need to be distributed throughout the tracking volume.

Practical implications

Due to the cost-effective platform and the flexibility of the software architecture, the approach can play an important role in areas with poor infrastructure (e.g. developing countries) to autonomously perform tasks for search and rescue, inspection and measurements.

Originality/value

The authors provide a low-cost off-the-shelf flight platform that only requires a commercially available mobile device as core processing unit for autonomous flight in GPS-denied areas.

Details

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-7371

Keywords

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Article

Seongpil Kim, Agus Budiyono, Jang‐Ho Lee, DooHyun Kim and Kwang Joon Yoon

The purpose of this paper is to conduct the design, development and testing of a controller for an autonomous small‐scale helicopter.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to conduct the design, development and testing of a controller for an autonomous small‐scale helicopter.

Design/methodology/approach

The hardware in the loop simulation (HILS) platform is developed based on the nonlinear model of JR Voyager G‐260 small‐scale helicopter. Autonomous controllers are verified using the HILS environment prior to flight experiments.

Findings

The gains of the multi‐loop cascaded control architecture can be effectively optimized within the HILS environment. Various autonomous flight operations are achieved and it is demonstrated that the prediction from the simulations is in a good agreement with the result from the flight test.

Research limitations/implications

The synthesized controller is effective for the particular test‐bed. For other small‐scale helicopters (with different size and engine specifications), the controller gains must be tuned again.

Practical implications

This work represents a practical control design and testing procedures for an autonomous small‐scale helicopter flight control. The autonomous helicopter can be used for various missions ranging from film making, agriculture and volcanic surveillance to power line inspection.

Originality/value

The research addresses the need for systematic design, development and testing of controller for a small‐scale autonomous helicopter by utilizing HILS environment.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 82 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0002-2667

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Article

Navya Thirumaleshwar Hegde, V. I. George, C. Gurudas Nayak and Aldrin Claytus Vaz

This paper aims to provide a mathematical modeling and design of H-infinity controller for an autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Quad Tiltrotor hybrid…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a mathematical modeling and design of H-infinity controller for an autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Quad Tiltrotor hybrid unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The variation in the aerodynamics and model dynamics of these aerial vehicles due to its tilting rotors are the key issues and challenges, which attracts the attention of many researchers. They carry parametric uncertainties (such as non-linear friction force, backlash, etc.), which drives the designed controller based on the nominal model to instability or performance degradation. The controller needs to take these factors into consideration and still give good stability and performance. Hence, a robust H-infinity controller is proposed that can handle these uncertainties.

Design/methodology/approach

A unique VTOL Quad Tiltrotor hybrid UAV, which operates in three flight modes, is mathematically modeled using Newton–Euler equations of motion. The contribution of the model is its ability to combine high-speed level flight, VTOL and transition between these two phases. The transition involves the tilting of the proprotors from 90° to 0° and vice-versa in 15° intervals. A robust H-infinity control strategy is proposed, evaluated and analyzed through simulation to control the flight dynamics for different modes of operation.

Findings

The main contribution of this research is the mathematical modeling of three flight modes (vertical takeoff–forward, transition–cruise-back, transition-vertical landing) of operation by controlling the revolutions per minute and tilt angles, which are independent of each other. An autonomous flight control system using a robust H-infinity controller to stabilize the mode of transition is designed for the Quad Tiltrotor UAV in the presence of uncertainties, noise and disturbances using MATLAB/SIMULINK. This paper focused on improving the disturbance rejection properties of the proposed UAV by designing a robust H-infinity controller for position and orientation trajectory regulation in the presence of uncertainty. The simulation results show that the Tiltrotor achieves transition successfully with disturbances, noise and uncertainties being present.

Originality/value

A novel VTOL Quad Tiltrotor UAV mathematical model is developed with a special tilting rotor mechanism, which combines both aircraft and helicopter flight modes with the transition taking place in between phases using robust H-infinity controller for attitude, altitude and trajectory regulation in the presence of uncertainty.

Details

International Journal of Intelligent Unmanned Systems, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-6427

Keywords

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Article

Zhi Chen, Daobo Wang, Ziyang Zhen, Biao Wang and Jian Fu

This paper aims to present a control strategy that eliminates the longitudinal and lateral drifting movements of the coaxial ducted fan unmanned helicopter (UH) during…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a control strategy that eliminates the longitudinal and lateral drifting movements of the coaxial ducted fan unmanned helicopter (UH) during autonomous take-off and landing and reduce the coupling characteristics between channels of the coaxial UH for its special model structure.

Design/methodology/approach

Unidirectional auxiliary surfaces (UAS) for terminal sliding mode controller (TSMC) are designed for the flight control system of the coaxial UH, and a hierarchical flight control strategy is proposed to improve the decoupling ability of the coaxial UH.

Findings

It is demonstrated that the proposed height control strategy can solve the longitudinal and lateral movements during autonomous take-off and landing phase. The proposed hierarchical controller can decouple vertical and heading coupling problem which exists in coaxial UH. Furthermore, the confronted UAS-TSMC method can guarantee finite-time convergence and meet the quick flight trim requirements during take-off and landing.

Research limitations/implications

The designed flight control strategy has not implemented in real flight test yet, as all the tests are conducted in the numerical simulation and simulation with a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) platform.

Social implications

The designed flight control strategy can solve the common problem of coupling characteristics between channels for coaxial UH, and it has important theoretical basis and reference value for engineering application; the control strategy can meet the demands of engineering practice.

Originality/value

In consideration of the TSMC approach, which can increase the convergence speed of the system state effectively, and the high level of response speed requirements to UH flight trim, the UAS-TSMC method is first applied to the coaxial ducted fan UH flight control. The proposed control strategy is implemented on the UH flight control system, and the HIL simulation clearly demonstrates that a much better performance could be achieved.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 89 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1748-8842

Keywords

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Article

Brenton K. Wilburn, Mario G. Perhinschi, Hever Moncayo, Ondrej Karas and Jennifer N. Wilburn

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and compare the performance of several different UAV trajectory tracking algorithms in normal and abnormal flight conditions to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and compare the performance of several different UAV trajectory tracking algorithms in normal and abnormal flight conditions to investigate the fault‐tolerant capabilities of a novel immunity‐based adaptive mechanism.

Design/methodology/approach

The evaluation of these algorithms is performed using the West Virginia University (WVU) UAV simulation environment. Three types of fixed‐parameter algorithms are considered as well as their adaptive versions obtained by adding an immunity‐based mechanism. The types of control laws investigated are: position proportional, integral, and derivative control, outer‐loop nonlinear dynamic inversion (NLDI), and extended NLDI. Actuator failures on the three channels and increased turbulence conditions are considered for several different flight paths. Specific and global performance metrics are defined based on trajectory tracking errors and control surface activity.

Findings

The performance of all of the adaptive controllers proves to be better than their fixed parameter counterparts during the presence of a failure in all cases considered.

Research limitations/implications

The immunity inspired adaptation mechanism has promising potential to enhance the fault‐tolerant capabilities of autonomous flight control algorithms and the extension of its use at all levels within the control laws considered and in conjunction with other control architectures is worth investigating.

Practical implications

The WVU UAV simulation environment has been proved to be a valuable tool for autonomous flight algorithm development, testing, and evaluation in normal and abnormal flight conditions.

Originality/value

A novel adaptation mechanism is investigated for UAV control algorithms with fault‐tolerant capabilities. The issue of fault tolerance of UAV control laws has only been addressed in a limited manner in the literature, although it becomes critical in the context of imminent integration of UAVs within the commercial airspace.

Details

International Journal of Intelligent Unmanned Systems, vol. 1 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-6427

Keywords

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Article

Kazi Mahmud Hasan, S.H. Shah Newaz and Md. Shamim Ahsan

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the development of an aircraft-type autonomous portable drone suitable for surveillance and disaster management. The drone is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the development of an aircraft-type autonomous portable drone suitable for surveillance and disaster management. The drone is capable of flying at a maximum speed of 76 km/h. This portable drone comprises five distinct parts those are easily installable within several minutes and can be fit in a small portable kit. The drone consists of a ballistic recovery system, allowing the drone landing vertically. The integrated high-definition camera sends real-time video stream of desired area to the ground control station. In addition, the drone is capable of carrying ~1.8 kg of payload.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to design and develop the portable drone, the authors sub-divided the research activities in six fundamental steps: survey of the current drone technologies, design the system architecture of the drone, simulation and modeling of various modules of the drone, development of various modules of the drone and their performance analysis, integration of various modules of the drone, and real-life performance analysis and finalization.

Findings

Experimental results: the cruise speed of the drone was in the range between 45 and 62 km/h. The drone was capable of landing vertically using the ballistic recovery system attached with it. On the contrary, the drone can transmit real-time video to the ground control station and, thus, suitable for surveillance. The audio system of the drone can be used for announcement of emergency messages. The drone can carry 1.8 kg of payload and can be used during disaster management. The drone parts are installed within 10 min and fit in a small carrying box.

Practical implications

The autonomous aircraft-type portable drone has a wide range of applications including surveillance, traffic jam monitoring and disaster management.

Social implications

The cost of the cost-effective drone is within $700 and creates opportunities for the deployment in the least developed countries.

Originality/value

The autonomous aircraft-type portable drone along with the ballistic recovery system were designed and developed by the authors using their won technology.

Details

International Journal of Intelligent Unmanned Systems, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-6427

Keywords

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Article

Daifeng Zhang, Haibin Duan and Yijun Yang

The purpose of this paper is to propose a control approach for small unmanned helicopters, and a novel swarm intelligence algorithm is used to optimize the parameters of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a control approach for small unmanned helicopters, and a novel swarm intelligence algorithm is used to optimize the parameters of the proposed controller.

Design/methodology/approach

Small unmanned helicopters have many advantages over other unmanned aerial vehicles. However, the manual operation process is difficult because the model is always instable and coupling. In this paper, a novel optimized active disturbance rejection control (ADRC) approach is presented for small unmanned helicopters. First, a linear attitude model is built in hovering condition according to small perturbation linearization. To realize decoupling, this model is divided into two parts, and each part is equipped with an ADRC controller. Finally, a novel Levy flight-based pigeon-inspired optimization (LFPIO) algorithm is developed to find the optimal ADRC parameters and enhance the performance of controller.

Findings

This paper applies ADRC method to the attitude control of small unmanned helicopters so that it can be implemented in practical flight under complex environments. Besides, a novel LFPIO algorithm is proposed to optimize the parameters of ADRC and is proved to be more efficient than other homogenous methods.

Research limitations/implications

The model of proposed controller is built in the hovering action, whereas it cannot be used in other flight modes.

Practical implications

The optimized ADRC method can be implemented in actual flight, and the proposed LFPIO algorithm can be developed in other practical optimization problems.

Originality/value

ADRC method can enhance the response and robustness of unmanned helicopters which make it valuable in actual environments. The proposed LFPIO algorithm is proved to be an effective swarm intelligence optimizer, and it is convenient and valuable to apply it in other optimized systems.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 89 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1748-8842

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Article

Yongbin Sun, Ning Xian and Haibin Duan

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new algorithm for linear-quadratic regulator (LQR) controller of a quadrotor with fast and stable performance, which is based on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new algorithm for linear-quadratic regulator (LQR) controller of a quadrotor with fast and stable performance, which is based on pigeon-inspired optimization (PIO).

Design/methodology/approach

The controller is based on LQR. The determinate parameters are optimized by PIO, which is a newly proposed swarm intelligent algorithm inspired by the characteristics of homing pigeons.

Findings

The PIO-optimized LQR controller can obtain the optimized parameters and achieve stabilization in about 3 s.

Practical implications

The PIO-optimized LQR controller can be easily applied to the flight formation, autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) and detection of unmanned aerial vehicles, especially applied to (AAR) in this paper.

Originality/value

This research applies PIO to optimize the tuning parameters of LQR, which can considerably improve the fast and stabilizing performance of attitude control. The simulation results show the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 88 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1748-8842

Keywords

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Article

Mariusz Oszust, Tomasz Kapuscinski, Dawid Warchol, Marian Wysocki, Tomasz Rogalski, Jacek Pieniazek, Grzegorz Henryk Kopecki, Piotr Ciecinski and Pawel Rzucidlo

This paper aims to present a vision-based method for determination of the position of a fixed-wing aircraft that is approaching a runway.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a vision-based method for determination of the position of a fixed-wing aircraft that is approaching a runway.

Design methodology/approach

The method determines the location of an aircraft based on positions of precision approach path indicator lights and approach light system with sequenced flashing lights in the image captured by an on-board camera.

Findings

As the relation of the lighting systems to the touchdown area on the considered runway is known in advance, the detected lights, seen as glowing lines or highlighted areas, in the image can be mapped onto the real-world coordinates and then used to estimate the position of the aircraft. Furthermore, the colours of lights are detected and can be used as auxiliary information.

Practical implications

The presented method can be considered as a potential source of flight data for autonomous approach and for augmentation of manual approach.

Originality/value

In this paper, a feasibility study of this concept is presented and primarily validated.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 90 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1748-8842

Keywords

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Article

Brenton K. Wilburn, Mario G. Perhinschi and Jennifer N. Wilburn

– The purpose of this paper is to gain trajectory-tracking controllers for autonomous aircraft are optimized using a modified evolutionary, or genetic algorithm (GA).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gain trajectory-tracking controllers for autonomous aircraft are optimized using a modified evolutionary, or genetic algorithm (GA).

Design/methodology/approach

The GA design utilizes real representation for the individual consisting of the collection of all controller gains subject to tuning. The initial population is generated randomly over pre-specified ranges. Alternatively, initial individuals are produced as random variations from a heuristically tuned set of gains to increase convergence time. A two-point crossover mechanism and a probabilistic mutation mechanism represent the genetic alterations performed on the population. The environment is represented by a performance index (PI) composed of a set of metrics based on tracking error and control activity in response to a commanded trajectory. Roulette-wheel selection with elitist strategy are implemented. A PI normalization scheme is also implemented to increase the speed of convergence. A flexible control laws design environment is developed, which can be used to easily optimize the gains for a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) control laws architectures.

Findings

The performance of the aircraft trajectory-tracking controllers was shown to improve significantly through the GA optimization. Additionally, the novel normalization modification was shown to encourage more rapid convergence to an optimal solution.

Research limitations/implications

The GA paradigm shows much promise in the optimization of highly non-linear aircraft trajectory-tracking controllers. The proposed optimization tool facilitates the investigation of novel control architectures regardless of complexity and dimensionality.

Practical implications

The addition of the evolutionary optimization to the WVU UAV simulation environment enhances significantly its capabilities for autonomous flight algorithm development, testing, and evaluation. The normalization methodology proposed in this paper has been shown to appreciably speed up the convergence of GAs.

Originality/value

The paper provides a flexible generalized framework for UAV control system evolutionary optimization. It includes specific novel structural elements and mechanisms for improved convergence as well as a comprehensive PI for trajectory tracking.

Details

International Journal of Intelligent Unmanned Systems, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-6427

Keywords

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