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Bio-inspired autonomous visual vertical control of a quadrotor UAV

Alkowatly, M. T., Becerra, V. M. and Holderbaum, W. (2015) Bio-inspired autonomous visual vertical control of a quadrotor UAV. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 38 (2). pp. 249-262. ISSN 0731-5090

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To link to this item DOI: 10.2514/1.G000634

Abstract/Summary

Near ground maneuvers, such as hover, approach and landing, are key elements of autonomy in unmanned aerial vehicles. Such maneuvers have been tackled conventionally by measuring or estimating the velocity and the height above the ground often using ultrasonic or laser range finders. Near ground maneuvers are naturally mastered by flying birds and insects as objects below may be of interest for food or shelter. These animals perform such maneuvers efficiently using only the available vision and vestibular sensory information. In this paper, the time-to-contact (Tau) theory, which conceptualizes the visual strategy with which many species are believed to approach objects, is presented as a solution for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) relative ground distance control. The paper shows how such an approach can be visually guided without knowledge of height and velocity relative to the ground. A control scheme that implements the Tau strategy is developed employing only visual information from a monocular camera and an inertial measurement unit. To achieve reliable visual information at a high rate, a novel filtering system is proposed to complement the control system. The proposed system is implemented on-board an experimental quadrotor UAV and shown not only to successfully land and approach ground, but also to enable the user to choose the dynamic characteristics of the approach. The methods presented in this paper are applicable to both aerial and space autonomous vehicles.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Department of Bio-Engineering
ID Code:37523
Publisher:American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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