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Drones, Volume 8, Issue 5 (May 2024) – 44 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Depending on the regional climatic conditions, some crops rely solely on rainfed water or depend on irrigation. Grapevines, for instance, need specific water levels, requiring irrigation systems. These systems, can be prone to damage or leaks, which are often challenging to detect and require inspection. This study presents a method to identify potential leaks in vineyard irrigation systems using UAV-based RGB and thermal infrared imagery. The RGB imagery is used to differentiate grapevines from other areas, enabling the temperature analysis of row sections in order to estimate leaks. The lower quintile threshold was the most effective in identifying leaks. This method improves the inspection efficiency, contributing to the reduction of water wastage, and helping in the optimization of viticulture practices. View this paper
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32 pages, 18049 KiB  
Article
The Challenges of Blood Sample Delivery via Drones in Urban Environment: A Feasibility Study through Specific Operation Risk Assessment Methodology
by Sara Molinari, Riccardo Patriarca and Marco Ducci
Drones 2024, 8(5), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050210 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 619
Abstract
In recent years, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) usage in the medical sector as an alternative to traditional means of goods transport has grown significantly. Even though the reduced response time achieved with UASs can be lifesaving in critical situations, their usage must comply [...] Read more.
In recent years, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) usage in the medical sector as an alternative to traditional means of goods transport has grown significantly. Even though the reduced response time achieved with UASs can be lifesaving in critical situations, their usage must comply with technological constraints such as range, speed and capacity, while minimizing potential risks. In this paper, the feasibility of a drone operation dedicated to the transport of blood samples in an urban area is studied through a safety risk analysis. The assessment utilizes the Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA) framework, in line with current European regulations, and extends it to define flight trajectories with minimal risk. A case study in the Helsinki urban area is used as a reference, with an exemplary case of commercial drone transportation of blood samples between the Töölö and Malmi Hospitals. By leveraging the drone performance capabilities and minimizing the risk for people on the ground, this approach demonstrates that medical delivery using drones in densely populated urban environments remains challenging. Nonetheless, it argues that the proposed method can enhance risk awareness and support the planning of feasible operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flight Control and Collision Avoidance of UAVs)
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1 pages, 140 KiB  
Correction
Correction: Bianchi et al. Quadrotor Trajectory Control Based on Energy-Optimal Reference Generator. Drones 2024, 8, 29
by Domenico Bianchi, Alessandro Borri, Federico Cappuzzo and Stefano Di Gennaro
Drones 2024, 8(5), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050209 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 206
Abstract
Figure corrections [...] Full article
19 pages, 7490 KiB  
Article
A Framework of Grasp Detection and Operation for Quadruped Robot with a Manipulator
by Jiamin Guo, Hui Chai, Qin Zhang, Haoning Zhao, Meiyi Chen, Yueyang Li and Yibin Li
Drones 2024, 8(5), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050208 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 296
Abstract
Quadruped robots equipped with manipulators need fast and precise grasping and detection algorithms for the transportation of disaster relief supplies. To address this, we developed a framework for these robots, comprising a Grasp Detection Controller (GDC), a Joint Trajectory Planner (JTP), a Leg [...] Read more.
Quadruped robots equipped with manipulators need fast and precise grasping and detection algorithms for the transportation of disaster relief supplies. To address this, we developed a framework for these robots, comprising a Grasp Detection Controller (GDC), a Joint Trajectory Planner (JTP), a Leg Joint Controller (LJC), and a Manipulator Joint Controller (MJC). In the GDC, we proposed a lightweight grasp detection CNN based on DenseBlock called DES-LGCNN, which reduced algorithm complexity while maintaining accuracy by incorporating UP and DOWN modules with DenseBlock. For JTP, we optimized the model based on quadruped robot kinematics to enhance wrist camera visibility in dynamic environments. We integrated the network and model into our homemade robot control system and verified our framework through multiple experiments. First, we evaluated the accuracy of the grasp detection algorithm using the Cornell and Jacquard datasets. On the Jacquard dataset, we achieved a detection accuracy of 92.49% for grasp points within 6 ms. Second, we verified its visibility through simulation. Finally, we conducted dynamic scene experiments which consisted of a dynamic target scenario (DTS), a dynamic base scenario (DBS), and a dynamic target and base scenario (DTBS) using an SDU-150 physical robot. In all three scenarios, the object was successfully grasped. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework in managing dynamic environments throughout task execution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Unmanned System Control and Data Processing)
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34 pages, 9559 KiB  
Article
Chaff Cloud Integrated Communication and TT&C: An Integrated Solution for Single-Station Emergency Communications and TT&C in a Denied Environment
by Lvyang Ye, Yikang Yang, Binhu Chen, Deng Pan, Fan Yang, Shaojun Cao, Yangdong Yan and Fayu Sun
Drones 2024, 8(5), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050207 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 442
Abstract
In response to potential denial environments such as canyons, gullies, islands, and cities where users are located, traditional Telemetry, Tracking, and Command (TT&C) systems can still maintain core requirements such as availability, reliability, and sustainability in the face of complex electromagnetic environments and [...] Read more.
In response to potential denial environments such as canyons, gullies, islands, and cities where users are located, traditional Telemetry, Tracking, and Command (TT&C) systems can still maintain core requirements such as availability, reliability, and sustainability in the face of complex electromagnetic environments and non-line-of-sight environments that may cause service degradation or even failure. This paper presents a single-station emergency solution that integrates communication and TT&C (IC&T) functions based on radar chaff cloud technology. Firstly, a suitable selection of frequency bands and modulation methods is provided for the emergency IC&T system to ensure compatibility with existing communication and TT&C systems while catering to the future needs of IC&T. Subsequently, theoretical analyses are conducted on the communication link transmission loss, data transmission, code tracking accuracy, and anti-multipath model of the emergency IC&T system based on the chosen frequency band and modulation mode. This paper proposes a dual-way asynchronous precision ranging and time synchronization (DWAPR&TS) system employing dual one-way ranging (DOWR) measurement, a dual-way asynchronous incoherent Doppler velocity measurement (DWAIDVM) system, and a single baseline angle measurement system. Next, we analyze the physical characteristics of the radar chaff and establish a dynamic model of spherical chaff cloud clusters based on free diffusion. Additionally, we provide the optimal strategy for deploying chaff cloud. Finally, the emergency IC&T application based on the radar chaff cloud relay is simulated, and the results show that for severe interference, taking drones as an example, under a measurement baseline of 100 km, the emergency IC&T solution proposed in this paper can achieve an accuracy range of approximately 100 m, a velocity accuracy of 0.1 m/s, and an angle accuracy of 0.1°. In comparison with existing TT&C system solutions, the proposed system possesses unique and potential advantages that the others do not have. It can serve as an emergency IC&T reference solution in denial environments, offering significant value for both civilian and military applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Trajectory Generation, Optimization and Cooperative Control)
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15 pages, 637 KiB  
Article
Incorporating Symbolic Discrete Controller Synthesis into a Virtual Robot Experimental Platform: An Implementation with Collaborative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Robots
by Mete Özbaltan and Serkan Çaşka
Drones 2024, 8(5), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050206 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 496
Abstract
We introduce a modeling framework aimed at incorporating symbolic discrete controller synthesis (DCS) into a virtual robot experimental platform. This framework involves symbolically representing the behaviors of robotic systems along with their control objectives using synchronous programming techniques. We employed DCS algorithms through [...] Read more.
We introduce a modeling framework aimed at incorporating symbolic discrete controller synthesis (DCS) into a virtual robot experimental platform. This framework involves symbolically representing the behaviors of robotic systems along with their control objectives using synchronous programming techniques. We employed DCS algorithms through the reactive synchronous environment ReaX to generate controllers that fulfill specified objectives. These resulting controllers were subsequently deployed on the virtual robot experimental platform Simscape. To demonstrate and validate our approach, we provide an implementation example involving collaborative UAV robots. Full article
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21 pages, 11698 KiB  
Article
A New Autonomous Method of Drone Path Planning Based on Multiple Strategies for Avoiding Obstacles with High Speed and High Density
by Tongyao Yang, Fengbao Yang and Dingzhu Li
Drones 2024, 8(5), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050205 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 448
Abstract
Path planning is one of the most essential parts of autonomous navigation. Most existing works are based on the strategy of adjusting angles for planning. However, drones are susceptible to collisions in environments with densely distributed and high-speed obstacles, which poses a serious [...] Read more.
Path planning is one of the most essential parts of autonomous navigation. Most existing works are based on the strategy of adjusting angles for planning. However, drones are susceptible to collisions in environments with densely distributed and high-speed obstacles, which poses a serious threat to flight safety. To handle this challenge, we propose a new method based on Multiple Strategies for Avoiding Obstacles with High Speed and High Density (MSAO2H). Firstly, we propose to extend the obstacle avoidance decisions of drones into angle adjustment, speed adjustment, and obstacle clearance. Hybrid action space is adopted to model each decision. Secondly, the state space of the obstacle environment is constructed to provide effective features for learning decision parameters. The instant reward and the ultimate reward are designed to balance the learning efficiency of decision parameters and the ability to explore optimal solutions. Finally, we innovatively introduced the interferometric fluid dynamics system into the parameterized deep Q-network to guide the learning of angle parameters. Compared with other algorithms, the proposed model has high success rates and generates high-quality planned paths. It can meet the requirements for autonomously planning high-quality paths in densely dynamic obstacle environments. Full article
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17 pages, 3616 KiB  
Article
Prescribed Performance Fault-Tolerant Attitude Tracking Control for UAV with Actuator Faults
by Qilong Wu and Qidan Zhu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050204 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 500
Abstract
This paper proposes a prescribed performance fault-tolerant control based on a fixed-time extended state observer (FXTESO) for a carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). First, the attitude motion model of the UAV is introduced. Secondly, the proposed FXTESO is designed to estimate the total [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a prescribed performance fault-tolerant control based on a fixed-time extended state observer (FXTESO) for a carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). First, the attitude motion model of the UAV is introduced. Secondly, the proposed FXTESO is designed to estimate the total disturbances including coupling, actuator faults and external disturbances. By using the barrier Lyapunov function (BLF), it is proved that under prescribed performance control (PPC), the attitude tracking error is stable within the prescribed range. The simulation results for tracking the desired attitude angle show that the average overshoot and stabilization time of PPC-FXTESO is 0.00455rad and 6.2s. Comparatively, the average overshoots of BSC-ESO and BSC-FTESO are 0.035rad and 0.027rad, with stabilization times of 14.97s and 12.56s, respectively. Therefore, the control scheme proposed in this paper outperforms other control schemes. Full article
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37 pages, 20585 KiB  
Article
A Novel Drone Design Based on a Reconfigurable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Wildfire Management
by Dimitris Perikleous, George Koustas, Spyros Velanas, Katerina Margariti, Pantelis Velanas and Diego Gonzalez-Aguilera
Drones 2024, 8(5), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050203 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 446
Abstract
Our study introduces a new approach, leveraging robotics technology and remote sensing for multifaceted applications in forest and wildfire management. Presented in this paper is PULSAR, an innovative UAV with reconfigurable capabilities, able of operating as a quadcopter, a co-axial quadcopter, and a [...] Read more.
Our study introduces a new approach, leveraging robotics technology and remote sensing for multifaceted applications in forest and wildfire management. Presented in this paper is PULSAR, an innovative UAV with reconfigurable capabilities, able of operating as a quadcopter, a co-axial quadcopter, and a standalone octocopter. Tailored to diverse operational requirements, PULSAR accommodates multiple payloads, showcasing its adaptability and versatility. This paper meticulously details material selection and design methods, encompassing both initial and detailed design, while the electronics design section seamlessly integrates essential avionic components. The 3D drone layout design, accomplished using SOLIDWORKS, enhances understanding by showcasing all three different configurations of PULSAR’s structure. Serving a dual purpose, this study highlights UAV applications in forest and wildfire management, particularly in detailed forest mapping, edge computing, and cartographic product generation, as well as detection and tracking of elements, illustrating how a UAV can be a valuable tool. Following the analysis of applications, this paper presents the selection and integration of payloads onto the UAV. Simultaneously, each of the three distinct UAV configurations is matched with a specific forest application, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. Lastly, computational validation of the UAV’s main components’ structural integrity is achieved through finite element analysis (FEA), affirming the absence of issues regarding stress and displacement. In conclusion, this research underscores the efficacy of PULSAR, marking a significant leap forward in applying robotics technology for wildfire science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drones for Wildfire and Prescribed Fire Science)
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17 pages, 6527 KiB  
Article
Research on Improved YOLOv5 Vehicle Target Detection Algorithm in Aerial Images
by Xue Yang, Jihong Xiu and Xiaojia Liu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050202 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 428
Abstract
Aerial photoelectric imaging payloads have become an important means of reconnaissance and surveillance in recent years. However, aerial images are easily affected by external conditions and have unclear edges, which greatly reduces the accuracy of imaging target recognition. This paper proposes the M-YOLOv5 [...] Read more.
Aerial photoelectric imaging payloads have become an important means of reconnaissance and surveillance in recent years. However, aerial images are easily affected by external conditions and have unclear edges, which greatly reduces the accuracy of imaging target recognition. This paper proposes the M-YOLOv5 model, which uses a shallow feature layer. The RFBs module is introduced to improve the receptive field and detection effect of small targets. In the neck network part, the BiFPN structure is used to reuse the underlying features to integrate more features, and a CBAM attention mechanism is added to improve detection accuracy. The experimental results show that the detection effect of this method on the DroneVehicle dataset is better than that of the original network, with the precision rate increased by 2.8%, the recall rate increased by 16%, and the average precision increased by 2.3%. Considering the real-time problem of target detection, based on the improved model, the Clight-YOLOv5 model is proposed, by lightweighting the network structure and using the depth-separable convolution optimization module. After lightweighting, the number of model parameters is decreased by 71.3%, which provides a new idea for lightweight target detection and proves the model’s effectiveness in aviation scenarios. Full article
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18 pages, 3025 KiB  
Article
Multi-Target Optimization Strategy for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Formation in Forest Fire Monitoring Based on Deep Q-Network Algorithm
by Wenjia Liu, Sung-Ki Lyu, Tao Liu, Yu-Ting Wu and Zhen Qin
Drones 2024, 8(5), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050201 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 625
Abstract
Forest fires often pose serious hazards, and the timely monitoring and extinguishing of residual forest fires using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can prevent re-ignition and mitigate the damage caused. Due to the urgency of forest fires, drones need to respond quickly during firefighting [...] Read more.
Forest fires often pose serious hazards, and the timely monitoring and extinguishing of residual forest fires using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can prevent re-ignition and mitigate the damage caused. Due to the urgency of forest fires, drones need to respond quickly during firefighting operations, while traditional drone formation deployment requires a significant amount of time. This paper proposes a pure azimuth passive positioning strategy for circular UAV formations and utilizes the Deep Q-Network (DQN) algorithm to effectively adjust the formation within a short timeframe. Initially, a passive positioning model for UAVs based on the relationships between the sides and angles of a triangle is established, with the closest point to the ideal position being selected as the position for the UAV to be located. Subsequently, a multi-target optimization model is developed, considering 10 UAVs as an example, with the objective of minimizing the number of adjustments while minimizing the deviation between the ideal and adjusted UAV positions. The DQN algorithm is employed to solve and design experiments for validation, demonstrating that the deviation between the UAV positions and the ideal positions, as well as the number of adjustments, are within acceptable ranges. In comparison to genetic algorithms, it saves approximately 120 s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Application of Remote Sensing in Forest Fire)
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18 pages, 6957 KiB  
Article
Multi-Device Security Application for Unmanned Surface and Aerial Systems
by Andre Leon, Christopher Britt and Britta Hale
Drones 2024, 8(5), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050200 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 430
Abstract
The use of autonomous and unmanned systems continues to increase, with uses spanning from package delivery to simple automation of tasks and from factory usage to defense industries and agricultural applications. With the proliferation of unmanned systems comes the question of how to [...] Read more.
The use of autonomous and unmanned systems continues to increase, with uses spanning from package delivery to simple automation of tasks and from factory usage to defense industries and agricultural applications. With the proliferation of unmanned systems comes the question of how to secure the command-and-control communication links among such devices and their operators. In this work, we look at the use of the Messaging Layer Security (MLS) protocol, designed to support long-lived continuous sessions and group communication with a high degree of security. We build out MAUI—an MLS API for UxS Integration that provides an interface for the secure exchange of data between a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) in a multi-domain ad-hoc network configuration, and experiment on system limits such as the ciphersuite set-up time and message handling rates. The experiments in this work were conducted in virtual and physical environments between the UAV, USV, and a controller device (all of different platforms). Our results demonstrate the viability of capitalizing on MLS’s capabilities to securely and efficiently transmit data for distributed communication among various unmanned system platforms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Detection, Security, and Communication for UAV)
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19 pages, 6305 KiB  
Article
Deep Reinforcement Learning-Based 3D Trajectory Planning for Cellular Connected UAV
by Xiang Liu, Weizhi Zhong, Xin Wang, Hongtao Duan, Zhenxiong Fan, Haowen Jin, Yang Huang and Zhipeng Lin
Drones 2024, 8(5), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050199 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 429
Abstract
To address the issue of limited application scenarios associated with connectivity assurance based on two-dimensional (2D) trajectory planning, this paper proposes an improved deep reinforcement learning (DRL) -based three-dimensional (3D) trajectory planning method for cellular unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) communication. By considering the [...] Read more.
To address the issue of limited application scenarios associated with connectivity assurance based on two-dimensional (2D) trajectory planning, this paper proposes an improved deep reinforcement learning (DRL) -based three-dimensional (3D) trajectory planning method for cellular unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) communication. By considering the 3D space environment and integrating factors such as UAV mission completion time and connectivity, we develop an objective function for path optimization and utilize the advanced dueling double deep Q network (D3QN) to optimize it. Additionally, we introduce the prioritized experience replay (PER) mechanism to enhance learning efficiency and expedite convergence. In order to further aid in trajectory planning, our method incorporates a simultaneous navigation and radio mapping (SNARM) framework that generates simulated 3D radio maps and simulates flight processes by utilizing measurement signals from the UAV during flight, thereby reducing actual flight costs. The simulation results demonstrate that the proposed approach effectively enable UAVs to avoid weak coverage regions in space, thereby reducing the weighted sum of flight time and expected interruption time. Full article
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24 pages, 14167 KiB  
Article
Multi-Altitude Corn Tassel Detection and Counting Based on UAV RGB Imagery and Deep Learning
by Shanwei Niu, Zhigang Nie, Guang Li and Wenyu Zhu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050198 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 456
Abstract
In the context of rapidly advancing agricultural technology, precise and efficient methods for crop detection and counting play a crucial role in enhancing productivity and efficiency in crop management. Monitoring corn tassels is key to assessing plant characteristics, tracking plant health, predicting yield, [...] Read more.
In the context of rapidly advancing agricultural technology, precise and efficient methods for crop detection and counting play a crucial role in enhancing productivity and efficiency in crop management. Monitoring corn tassels is key to assessing plant characteristics, tracking plant health, predicting yield, and addressing issues such as pests, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies promptly. This ultimately ensures robust and high-yielding corn growth. This study introduces a method for the recognition and counting of corn tassels, using RGB imagery captured by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the YOLOv8 model. The model incorporates the Pconv local convolution module, enabling a lightweight design and rapid detection speed. The ACmix module is added to the backbone section to improve feature extraction capabilities for corn tassels. Moreover, the CTAM module is integrated into the neck section to enhance semantic information exchange between channels, allowing for precise and efficient positioning of corn tassels. To optimize the learning rate strategy, the sparrow search algorithm (SSA) is utilized. Significant improvements in recognition accuracy, detection efficiency, and robustness are observed across various UAV flight altitudes. Experimental results show that, compared to the original YOLOv8 model, the proposed model exhibits an increase in accuracy of 3.27 percentage points to 97.59% and an increase in recall of 2.85 percentage points to 94.40% at a height of 5 m. Furthermore, the model optimizes frames per second (FPS), parameters (params), and GFLOPs (giga floating point operations per second) by 7.12%, 11.5%, and 8.94%, respectively, achieving values of 40.62 FPS, 14.62 MB, and 11.21 GFLOPs. At heights of 10, 15, and 20 m, the model maintains stable accuracies of 90.36%, 88.34%, and 84.32%, respectively. This study offers technical support for the automated detection of corn tassels, advancing the intelligence and precision of agricultural production and significantly contributing to the development of modern agricultural technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances of UAV in Precision Agriculture)
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14 pages, 18071 KiB  
Article
Robust Radar Inertial Odometry in Dynamic 3D Environments
by Yang Lyu, Lin Hua, Jiaming Wu, Xinkai Liang and Chunhui Zhao
Drones 2024, 8(5), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050197 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 550
Abstract
Millimeter-Wave Radar is one promising sensor to achieve robust perception against challenging observing conditions. In this paper, we propose a Radar Inertial Odometry (RIO) pipeline utilizing a long-range 4D millimeter-wave radar for autonomous vehicle navigation. Initially, we develop a perception frontend based on [...] Read more.
Millimeter-Wave Radar is one promising sensor to achieve robust perception against challenging observing conditions. In this paper, we propose a Radar Inertial Odometry (RIO) pipeline utilizing a long-range 4D millimeter-wave radar for autonomous vehicle navigation. Initially, we develop a perception frontend based on radar point cloud filtering and registration to estimate the relative transformations between frames reliably. Then an optimization-based backbone is formulated, which fuses IMU data, relative poses, and point cloud velocities from radar Doppler measurements. The proposed method is extensively tested in challenging on-road environments and in-the-air environments. The results indicate that the proposed RIO can provide a reliable localization function for mobile platforms, such as automotive vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), in various operation conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Positioning: From Ground to Sky)
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32 pages, 3284 KiB  
Review
A Review of Real-Time Implementable Cooperative Aerial Manipulation Systems
by Stamatina C. Barakou, Costas S. Tzafestas and Kimon P. Valavanis
Drones 2024, 8(5), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050196 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 670
Abstract
This review paper focuses on quadrotor- and multirotor-based cooperative aerial manipulation. Emphasis is first given to comparing and evaluating prototype systems that have been implemented and tested in real-time in diverse application environments. The underlying modeling and control approaches are also discussed and [...] Read more.
This review paper focuses on quadrotor- and multirotor-based cooperative aerial manipulation. Emphasis is first given to comparing and evaluating prototype systems that have been implemented and tested in real-time in diverse application environments. The underlying modeling and control approaches are also discussed and compared. The outcome of this review allows for understanding the motivation and rationale to develop such systems, their applicability and implementability in diverse applications and also challenges that need to be addressed and overcome. Moreover, this paper provides a guide to develop the next generation of prototype systems based on preferred characteristics, functionality, operability, and application domain. Full article
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18 pages, 50277 KiB  
Article
Generation of Virtual Ground Control Points Using a Binocular Camera
by Ariel Vazquez-Dominguez, Andrea Magadán-Salazar, Raúl Pinto-Elías, Jorge Fuentes-Pacheco, Máximo López-Sánchez and Hernán Abaunza-González
Drones 2024, 8(5), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050195 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 535
Abstract
This paper presents a methodology for generating virtual ground control points (VGCPs) using a binocular camera mounted on a drone. We compare the measurements of the binocular and monocular cameras between the classical method and the proposed one. This work aims to decrease [...] Read more.
This paper presents a methodology for generating virtual ground control points (VGCPs) using a binocular camera mounted on a drone. We compare the measurements of the binocular and monocular cameras between the classical method and the proposed one. This work aims to decrease human processing times while maintaining a reduced root mean square error (RMSE) for 3D reconstruction. Additionally, we propose utilizing COLMAP to enhance reconstruction accuracy by solely utilizing a sparse point cloud. The results demonstrate that implementing COLMAP for pre-processing reduces the RMSE by up to 16.9% in most cases. We prove that VGCPs further reduce the RMSE by up to 61.08%. Full article
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23 pages, 1272 KiB  
Article
A Novel UAV Air-to-Air Channel Model Incorporating the Effect of UAV Vibrations and Diffuse Scattering
by Wenzhe Qi, Ji Bian, Zili Wang and Wenzhao Liu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050194 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 563
Abstract
In this paper, we propose a geometric channel model for air-to-air (A2A) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) communication scenarios. The model is established by incorporating line-of-sight, specular reflection, and diffuse scattering components, and it can capture the impacts of UAV vibrations induced by the [...] Read more.
In this paper, we propose a geometric channel model for air-to-air (A2A) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) communication scenarios. The model is established by incorporating line-of-sight, specular reflection, and diffuse scattering components, and it can capture the impacts of UAV vibrations induced by the propeller’s rotation. Based on UAV heights and ground scatterer density, a closed-form expression is derived to jointly capture the zenith and azimuth angular distributions of diffuse rays. The power of diffuse rays is modeled according to the grazing angle of the rays and the electrical properties and roughness of the ground materials. Key statistics, including the temporal autocorrelation function, spatial cross-correlation function, Doppler power spectrum density, and coherence time are derived, providing an in-depth understanding of the time-variant characteristics of the channel. The results indicate that the presented model is capable of capturing certain A2A channel characteristics, which align with the corresponding theoretical analysis. The findings suggest that the scattering effect of the A2A channel is significantly influenced by the altitude of the UAV. Additionally, it is shown that UAV vibrations can introduce extra Doppler frequencies, notably decreasing the temporal correlation and coherence time of the channel. This effect is more prominent when the system operates at high-frequency bands. The effectiveness of the presented model is confirmed through a comparison of its statistics with those of an existing model and with available measurement data. Full article
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42 pages, 3596 KiB  
Review
Strategies for Optimized UAV Surveillance in Various Tasks and Scenarios: A Review
by Zixuan Fang and Andrey V. Savkin
Drones 2024, 8(5), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050193 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 546
Abstract
This review paper provides insights into optimization strategies for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in a variety of surveillance tasks and scenarios. From basic path planning to complex mission execution, we comprehensively evaluate the multifaceted role of UAVs in critical areas such as infrastructure [...] Read more.
This review paper provides insights into optimization strategies for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in a variety of surveillance tasks and scenarios. From basic path planning to complex mission execution, we comprehensively evaluate the multifaceted role of UAVs in critical areas such as infrastructure inspection, security surveillance, environmental monitoring, archaeological research, mining applications, etc. The paper analyzes in detail the effectiveness of UAVs in specific tasks, including power line and bridge inspections, search and rescue operations, police activities, and environmental monitoring. The focus is on the integration of advanced navigation algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies with UAV surveillance and the challenges of operating in complex environments. Looking ahead, this paper predicts trends in cooperative UAV surveillance networks and explores the potential of UAVs in more challenging scenarios. This review not only provides researchers with a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the art, but also highlights future research directions, aiming to engage and inspire readers to further explore the potential of UAVs in surveillance missions. Full article
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24 pages, 3679 KiB  
Article
PPSwarm: Multi-UAV Path Planning Based on Hybrid PSO in Complex Scenarios
by Qicheng Meng, Kai Chen and Qingjun Qu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050192 - 11 May 2024
Viewed by 450
Abstract
Evolutionary algorithms exhibit flexibility and global search advantages in multi-UAV path planning, effectively addressing complex constraints. However, when there are numerous obstacles in the environment, especially narrow passageways, the algorithm often struggles to quickly find a viable path. Additionally, collaborative constraints among multiple [...] Read more.
Evolutionary algorithms exhibit flexibility and global search advantages in multi-UAV path planning, effectively addressing complex constraints. However, when there are numerous obstacles in the environment, especially narrow passageways, the algorithm often struggles to quickly find a viable path. Additionally, collaborative constraints among multiple UAVs complicate the search space, making algorithm convergence challenging. To address these issues, we propose a novel hybrid particle swarm optimization algorithm called PPSwarm. This approach initially employs the RRT* algorithm to generate an initial path, rapidly identifying a feasible solution in complex environments. Subsequently, we adopt a priority planning method to assign priorities to UAVs, simplifying collaboration among them. Furthermore, by introducing a path randomization strategy, we enhance the diversity of the particle swarm, thereby avoiding local optimum solutions. The experimental results show that, in comparison to algorithms such as DE, PSO, ABC, GWO, and SPSO, the PPSwarm algorithm demonstrates significant advantages in terms of path quality, convergence speed, and runtime when addressing path planning issues for 40 UAVs across four different scenarios. In larger-scale experiments involving 500 UAVs, the proposed algorithm also exhibits excellent processing capability and scalability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Drone Design and Development)
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16 pages, 4877 KiB  
Article
Channel Knowledge Map Construction Based on a UAV-Assisted Channel Measurement System
by Yanheng Qiu, Xiaomin Chen, Kai Mao, Xuchao Ye, Hanpeng Li, Farman Ali, Yang Huang and Qiuming Zhu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050191 - 11 May 2024
Viewed by 470
Abstract
With the fast development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reliable UAV communication is becoming increasingly vital. The channel knowledge map (CKM) is a crucial bridge connecting the environment and the propagation channel that may visually depict channel characteristics. This paper presents a comprehensive [...] Read more.
With the fast development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reliable UAV communication is becoming increasingly vital. The channel knowledge map (CKM) is a crucial bridge connecting the environment and the propagation channel that may visually depict channel characteristics. This paper presents a comprehensive scheme based on a UAV-assisted channel measurement system for constructing the CKM in real-world scenarios. Firstly, a three-dimensional (3D) CKM construction scheme for real-world scenarios is provided, which involves channel knowledge extraction, mapping, and completion. Secondly, an algorithm of channel knowledge extraction and completion is proposed. The sparse channel knowledge is extracted based on the sliding correlation and constant false alarm rate (CFAR) approaches. The 3D Kriging interpolation is used to complete the sparse channel knowledge. Finally, a UAV-assisted channel measurement system is developed and CKM measurement campaigns are conducted in campus and farmland scenarios. The path loss (PL) and root mean square delay spread (RMS-DS) are measured at different heights to determine CKMs. The measured and analyzed results show that the proposed construction scheme can effectively and accurately construct the CKMs in real-world scenarios. Full article
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17 pages, 5269 KiB  
Article
Design and Development of an Air–Land Amphibious Inspection Drone for Fusion Reactor
by Guodong Qin, Youzhi Xu, Wei He, Qian Qi, Lei Zheng, Haimin Hu, Yong Cheng, Congju Zuo, Deyang Zhang and Aihong Ji
Drones 2024, 8(5), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050190 - 11 May 2024
Viewed by 340
Abstract
This paper proposes a design method for a miniature air–land amphibious inspection drone (AAID) to be used in the latest compact fusion reactor discharge gap observation mission. Utilizing the amphibious function, the AAID realizes the function of crawling transportation in the narrow maintenance [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a design method for a miniature air–land amphibious inspection drone (AAID) to be used in the latest compact fusion reactor discharge gap observation mission. Utilizing the amphibious function, the AAID realizes the function of crawling transportation in the narrow maintenance channel and flying observation inside the fusion reactor. To realize miniaturization, the mobile platform adopts the bionic cockroach wheel-legged system to improve the obstacle-crossing ability. The flight platform adopts an integrated rotor structure with frame and control to reduce the overall weight of the AAID. Based on the AAID dynamic model and the optimal control method, the control strategies under flight mode, hover mode and fly–crawl transition are designed, respectively. Finally, the prototype of the AAID is established, and the crawling, hovering, and fly–crawling transition control experiments are carried out, respectively. The test results show that the maximum crawling inclination of the AAID is more than 20°. The roll angle, pitch angle, and yaw angle deviation of the AAID during hovering are all less than 2°. The landing success rate of the AAID during the fly–crawl transition phase also exceeded 77%, proving the effectiveness of the structural design and dynamic control strategy. Full article
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32 pages, 15835 KiB  
Article
Research on Bidirectional Multi-Span Feature Pyramid and Key Feature Capture Object Detection Network
by Heng Zhang, Faming Shao, Xiaohui He, Dewei Zhao, Zihan Zhang and Tao Zhang
Drones 2024, 8(5), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050189 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 667
Abstract
UAV remote sensing (RS) image object detection is a very valuable and challenging technology. This article discusses the importance of key features and proposes an object detection network (URSNet) based on a bidirectional multi-span feature pyramid and key feature capture mechanism. Firstly, a [...] Read more.
UAV remote sensing (RS) image object detection is a very valuable and challenging technology. This article discusses the importance of key features and proposes an object detection network (URSNet) based on a bidirectional multi-span feature pyramid and key feature capture mechanism. Firstly, a bidirectional multi-span feature pyramid (BMSFPN) is constructed. In the process of bidirectional sampling, bicubic interpolation and cross layer fusion are used to filter out image noise and enhance the details of object features. Secondly, the designed feature polarization module (FPM) uses the internal polarization attention mechanism to build a powerful feature representation for classification and regression tasks, making it easier for the network to capture the key object features with more semantic discrimination. In addition, the anchor rotation alignment module (ARAM) further refines the preset anchor frame based on the key regression features extracted by FPM to obtain high-quality rotation anchors with a high matching degree and rich positioning visual information. Finally, the dynamic anchor optimization module (DAOM) is used to improve the ability of feature alignment and positive and negative sample discrimination of the model so that the model can dynamically select the candidate anchor to capture the key regression features so as to further eliminate the deviation between the classification and regression. URSNet has conducted comprehensive ablation and SOTA comparative experiments on challenging RS datasets such as DOTA-V2.0, DIOR and RSOD. The optimal experimental results (87.19% mAP, 108.2 FPS) show that URSNet has efficient and reliable detection performance. Full article
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17 pages, 2537 KiB  
Article
Joint Phase Shift Design and Resource Management for a Non-Orthogonal Multiple Access-Enhanced Internet of Vehicle Assisted by an Intelligent Reflecting Surface-Equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
by Lijuan Wang, Yixin He, Bin Chen, Abual Hassan, Dawei Wang, Lina Yang and Fanghui Huang
Drones 2024, 8(5), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050188 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 771
Abstract
This paper integrates intelligent reflecting surfaces (IRS) with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to enhance the transmission performance of the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) through non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA). It focuses on strengthening the signals from cell edge vehicles (CEVs) to the base station [...] Read more.
This paper integrates intelligent reflecting surfaces (IRS) with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to enhance the transmission performance of the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) through non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA). It focuses on strengthening the signals from cell edge vehicles (CEVs) to the base station by optimizing the wireless propagation environment via an IRS-equipped UAV. The primary goal is to maximize the sum data rate of CEVs while satisfying the constraint of the successive interference cancellation (SIC) decoding threshold. The challenge lies in the non-convex nature of jointly considering the power control, subcarrier allocation, and phase shift design, making the problem difficult to optimally solve. To address this, the problem is decomposed into two independent subproblems, which are then solved iteratively. Specifically, the optimal phase shift design is achieved using the deep deterministic policy gradient (DDPG) algorithm. Furthermore, the graph theory is applied to determine the subcarrier allocation policy and derive a closed-form solution for optimal power control. Finally, the simulation results show that the proposed joint phase shift and resource management scheme significantly enhances the sum data rate compared to the state-of-the-art schemes, thereby demonstrating the benefits of integrating the IRS-equipped UAV into NOMA-enhanced IoV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Drone Communications)
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19 pages, 10565 KiB  
Article
Detection of Leak Areas in Vineyard Irrigation Systems Using UAV-Based Data
by Luís Pádua, Pedro Marques, Lia-Tânia Dinis, José Moutinho-Pereira, Joaquim J. Sousa, Raul Morais and Emanuel Peres
Drones 2024, 8(5), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050187 - 8 May 2024
Viewed by 697
Abstract
Water is essential for maintaining plant health and optimal growth in agriculture. While some crops depend on irrigation, others can rely on rainfed water, depending on regional climatic conditions. This is exemplified by grapevines, which have specific water level requirements, and irrigation systems [...] Read more.
Water is essential for maintaining plant health and optimal growth in agriculture. While some crops depend on irrigation, others can rely on rainfed water, depending on regional climatic conditions. This is exemplified by grapevines, which have specific water level requirements, and irrigation systems are needed. However, these systems can be susceptible to damage or leaks, which are not always easy to detect, requiring meticulous and time-consuming inspection. This study presents a methodology for identifying potential damage or leaks in vineyard irrigation systems using RGB and thermal infrared (TIR) imagery acquired by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The RGB imagery was used to distinguish between grapevine and non-grapevine pixels, enabling the division of TIR data into three raster products: temperature from grapevines, from non-grapevine areas, and from the entire evaluated vineyard plot. By analyzing the mean temperature values from equally spaced row sections, different threshold values were calculated to estimate and map potential leaks. These thresholds included the lower quintile value, the mean temperature minus the standard deviation (Tmeanσ), and the mean temperature minus two times the standard deviation (Tmean2σ). The lower quintile threshold showed the best performance in identifying known leak areas and highlighting the closest rows that need inspection in the field. This approach presents a promising solution for inspecting vineyard irrigation systems. By using UAVs, larger areas can be covered on-demand, improving the efficiency and scope of the inspection process. This not only reduces water wastage in viticulture and eases grapevine water stress but also optimizes viticulture practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances of UAV in Precision Agriculture)
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26 pages, 18371 KiB  
Article
MFEFNet: A Multi-Scale Feature Information Extraction and Fusion Network for Multi-Scale Object Detection in UAV Aerial Images
by Liming Zhou, Shuai Zhao, Ziye Wan, Yang Liu, Yadi Wang and Xianyu Zuo
Drones 2024, 8(5), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050186 - 8 May 2024
Viewed by 666
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now widely used in many fields. Due to the randomness of UAV flight height and shooting angle, UAV images usually have the following characteristics: many small objects, large changes in object scale, and complex background. Therefore, object detection [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now widely used in many fields. Due to the randomness of UAV flight height and shooting angle, UAV images usually have the following characteristics: many small objects, large changes in object scale, and complex background. Therefore, object detection in UAV aerial images is a very challenging task. To address the challenges posed by these characteristics, this paper proposes a novel UAV image object detection method based on global feature aggregation and context feature extraction named the multi-scale feature information extraction and fusion network (MFEFNet). Specifically, first of all, to extract the feature information of objects more effectively from complex backgrounds, we propose an efficient spatial information extraction (SIEM) module, which combines residual connection to build long-distance feature dependencies and effectively extracts the most useful feature information by building contextual feature relations around objects. Secondly, to improve the feature fusion efficiency and reduce the burden brought by redundant feature fusion networks, we propose a global aggregation progressive feature fusion network (GAFN). This network adopts a three-level adaptive feature fusion method, which can adaptively fuse multi-scale features according to the importance of different feature layers and reduce unnecessary intermediate redundant features by utilizing the adaptive feature fusion module (AFFM). Furthermore, we use the MPDIoU loss function as the bounding-box regression loss function, which not only enhances model robustness to noise but also simplifies the calculation process and improves the final detection efficiency. Finally, the proposed MFEFNet was tested on VisDrone and UAVDT datasets, and the mAP0.5 value increased by 2.7% and 2.2%, respectively. Full article
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30 pages, 16574 KiB  
Article
Dynamics Event-Triggered-Based Time-Varying Bearing Formation Control for UAVs
by Can Ding, Zhe Zhang and Jing Zhang
Drones 2024, 8(5), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050185 - 8 May 2024
Viewed by 504
Abstract
This article addresses the leader-follower formation maneuver control problem of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), taking into account the time-varying velocity and time-varying relative bearing. An event-triggered bearing-based distributed velocity observer was designed, using only the desired position and velocity of the leaders. [...] Read more.
This article addresses the leader-follower formation maneuver control problem of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), taking into account the time-varying velocity and time-varying relative bearing. An event-triggered bearing-based distributed velocity observer was designed, using only the desired position and velocity of the leaders. Furthermore, a dynamic event-triggered mechanism was introduced to reduce continuous communication between UAVs, thus effectively saving communication bandwidth and resources. Building on this, a bearing-only formation maneuver control strategy was proposed, integrating the event-triggered velocity observer with the backstepping control approach. To conclude, numerical simulations have been conducted to confirm the effectiveness of the proposed scheme in accomplishing formation maneuver control objectives, including translation, scaling, and rotation control. Furthermore, the advantages of the dynamic event-triggering strategy have been demonstrated through comparative simulations with traditional event-triggering strategies. Additionally, the effectiveness of the proposed observer and controller has been demonstrated by a comprehensive hardware-in-the-loop (HITL) simulation example. Full article
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17 pages, 1058 KiB  
Article
UAV-Mounted RIS-Aided Mobile Edge Computing System: A DDQN-Based Optimization Approach
by Min Wu, Shibing Zhu, Changqing Li, Jiao Zhu, Yudi Chen, Xiangyu Liu and Rui Liu
Drones 2024, 8(5), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050184 - 7 May 2024
Viewed by 515
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs) are increasingly employed in mobile edge computing (MEC) systems to flexibly modify the signal transmission environment. This is achieved through the active manipulation of the wireless channel facilitated by the mobile deployment of UAVs [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs) are increasingly employed in mobile edge computing (MEC) systems to flexibly modify the signal transmission environment. This is achieved through the active manipulation of the wireless channel facilitated by the mobile deployment of UAVs and the intelligent reflection of signals by RISs. However, these technologies are subject to inherent limitations such as the restricted range of UAVs and limited RIS coverage, which hinder their broader application. The integration of UAVs and RISs into UAV–RIS schemes presents a promising approach to surmounting these limitations by leveraging the strengths of both technologies. Motivated by the above observations, we contemplate a novel UAV–RIS-aided MEC system, wherein UAV–RIS plays a pivotal role in facilitating communication between terrestrial vehicle users and MEC servers. To address this challenging non-convex problem, we propose an energy-constrained approach to maximize the system’s energy efficiency based on a double-deep Q-network (DDQN), which is employed to realize joint control of the UAVs, passive beamforming, and resource allocation for MEC. Numerical results demonstrate that the proposed optimization scheme significantly enhances the system efficiency of the UAV–RIS-aided time division multiple access (TDMA) network. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobile Fog and Edge Computing in Drone Swarms)
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17 pages, 4881 KiB  
Article
Intelligent Packet Priority Module for a Network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Using Manhattan Long Short-Term Memory
by Dino Budi Prakoso, Jauzak Hussaini Windiatmaja, Agus Mulyanto, Riri Fitri Sari and Rosdiadee Nordin
Drones 2024, 8(5), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050183 - 7 May 2024
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming more common in wireless communication networks. Using UAVs can lead to network problems. An issue arises when the UAVs function in a network-access-limited environment with nodes causing interference. This issue could potentially hinder UAV network connectivity. This [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming more common in wireless communication networks. Using UAVs can lead to network problems. An issue arises when the UAVs function in a network-access-limited environment with nodes causing interference. This issue could potentially hinder UAV network connectivity. This paper introduces an intelligent packet priority module (IPPM) to minimize network latency. This study analyzed Network Simulator–3 (NS-3) network modules utilizing Manhattan long short-term memory (MaLSTM) for packet classification of critical UAV, ground control station (GCS), or interfering nodes. To minimize network latency and packet delivery ratio (PDR) issues caused by interfering nodes, packets from prioritized nodes are transmitted first. Simulation results and evaluation show that our proposed intelligent packet priority module (IPPM) method outperformed previous approaches. The proposed IPPM based on MaLSTM implementation for the priority packet module led to a lower network delay and a higher packet delivery ratio. The performance of the IPPM averaged 62.2 ms network delay and 0.97 packet delivery ratio (PDR). The MaLSTM peaked at 97.5% accuracy. Upon further evaluation, the stability of LSTM Siamese models was observed to be consistent across diverse similarity functions, including cosine and Euclidean distances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Assisted Mobile Wireless Networks and Applications)
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27 pages, 15086 KiB  
Article
Vision-Guided Tracking and Emergency Landing for UAVs on Moving Targets
by Yisak Debele, Ha-Young Shi, Assefinew Wondosen, Henok Warku, Tae-Wan Ku and Beom-Soo Kang
Drones 2024, 8(5), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050182 - 3 May 2024
Viewed by 905
Abstract
This paper presents a vision-based adaptive tracking and landing method for multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), designed for safe recovery amid propulsion system failures that reduce maneuverability and responsiveness. The method addresses challenges posed by external disturbances such as wind and agile target [...] Read more.
This paper presents a vision-based adaptive tracking and landing method for multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), designed for safe recovery amid propulsion system failures that reduce maneuverability and responsiveness. The method addresses challenges posed by external disturbances such as wind and agile target movements, specifically, by considering maneuverability and control limitations caused by propulsion system failures. Building on our previous research in actuator fault detection and tolerance, our approach employs a modified adaptive pure pursuit guidance technique with an extra adaptation parameter to account for reduced maneuverability, thus ensuring safe tracking of moving objects. Additionally, we present an adaptive landing strategy that adapts to tracking deviations and minimizes off-target landings caused by lateral tracking errors and delayed responses, using a lateral offset-dependent vertical velocity control. Our system employs vision-based tag detection to ascertain the position of the Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) in relation to the UAV. We implemented this system in a mid-mission emergency landing scenario, which includes actuator health monitoring of emergency landings. Extensive testing and simulations demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, significantly advancing the development of safe tracking and emergency landing methods for UAVs with compromised control authority due to actuator failures. Full article
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22 pages, 23766 KiB  
Article
Fine-Grained Feature Perception for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Target Detection Algorithm
by Shi Liu, Meng Zhu, Rui Tao and Honge Ren
Drones 2024, 8(5), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8050181 - 3 May 2024
Viewed by 770
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aerial images often present challenges such as small target sizes, high target density, varied shooting angles, and dynamic poses. Existing target detection algorithms exhibit a noticeable performance decline when confronted with UAV aerial images compared to general scenes. This [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aerial images often present challenges such as small target sizes, high target density, varied shooting angles, and dynamic poses. Existing target detection algorithms exhibit a noticeable performance decline when confronted with UAV aerial images compared to general scenes. This paper proposes an outstanding small target detection algorithm for UAVs, named Fine-Grained Feature Perception YOLOv8s-P2 (FGFP-YOLOv8s-P2), based on YOLOv8s-P2 architecture. We specialize in improving inspection accuracy while meeting real-time inspection requirements. First, we enhance the targets’ pixel information by utilizing slice-assisted training and inference techniques, thereby reducing missed detections. Then, we propose a feature extraction module with deformable convolutions. Decoupling the learning process of offset and modulation scalar enables better adaptation to variations in the size and shape of diverse targets. In addition, we introduce a large kernel spatial pyramid pooling module. By cascading convolutions, we leverage the advantages of large kernels to flexibly adjust the model’s attention to various regions of high-level feature maps, better adapting to complex visual scenes and circumventing the cost drawbacks associated with large kernels. To match the excellent real-time detection performance of the baseline model, we propose an improved Random FasterNet Block. This block introduces randomness during convolution and captures spatial features of non-linear transformation channels, enriching feature representations and enhancing model efficiency. Extensive experiments and comprehensive evaluations on the VisDrone2019 and DOTA-v1.0 datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of FGFP-YOLOv8s-P2. This achievement provides robust technical support for efficient small target detection by UAVs in complex scenarios. Full article
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