Topic Editors

Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering at Luleå University of Technology, SE-97187 Luleå, Sweden
Department of Mining Technology, Topography and Structures, University of León, Avda. Astorga, s/n, 24401 Ponferrada, Spain
Cartographic and Land Engineering Department, Higher Polytechnic School of Avila, University of Salamanca, Hornos Caleros, 50, 05003 Avila, Spain

Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs

Abstract submission deadline
closed (31 December 2021)
Manuscript submission deadline
closed (31 March 2022)
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86085

Topic Information

Dear Colleagues,

UAVs have been a center of interest for more than a decade now. Despite it being commonly accepted that the benefits of their broad utilization are vastly significant and span across all of the application sectors, still there are sizeable challenges to overcome—i.e., those related to their resilience in operating autonomously in harsh, varying, and unknown environments.

Thus, the current topic aims to collect multiple novel contributions in the field of resilient autonomy for UAVs with characteristic examples targeting, but not limited to, UAV areas of research in:

- Automatic control;
- Local and global path planning;
- Mission generation;
- Multi-vehicle orchestration schemes;
- Perception;
- Multi-sensorial fusion;
- UAV applications;
- UAV-based multi-session SLAM;
- UAV novel concept design;
- UAV-based remote sensing;
- UAV and human interaction;
- UAV-based aerial manipulation.

Prof. Dr. George Nikolakopoulos
Prof. Dr. Pablo Rodríguez-Gonzálvez
Prof. Dr. Diego González-Aguilera
Topic Editors

Keywords

  • automatic control
  • local and Global Path planning
  • mission generation
  • multi-vehicle orchestration schemes
  • perception
  • multi-sensorial fusion
  • UAV applications
  • UAV based multi-session
  • SLAM
  • UAV novel concept designs
  • UAV based remote sensing
  • UAV and human interaction
  • UAV based aerial manipulation

Participating Journals

Journal Name Impact Factor CiteScore Launched Year First Decision (median) APC
Applied Sciences
applsci
2.7 4.5 2011 16.9 Days CHF 2400
Remote Sensing
remotesensing
5.0 7.9 2009 23 Days CHF 2700
Drones
drones
4.8 6.1 2017 17.9 Days CHF 2600
Sensors
sensors
3.9 6.8 2001 17 Days CHF 2600

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Published Papers (25 papers)

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24 pages, 12001 KiB  
Article
UAV Path Planning Algorithm Based on Improved Harris Hawks Optimization
by Ran Zhang, Sen Li, Yuanming Ding, Xutong Qin and Qingyu Xia
Sensors 2022, 22(14), 5232; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22145232 - 13 Jul 2022
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2244
Abstract
In the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system, finding a flight planning path with low cost and fast search speed is an important problem. However, in the complex three-dimensional (3D) flight environment, the planning effect of many algorithms is not ideal. In order to [...] Read more.
In the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system, finding a flight planning path with low cost and fast search speed is an important problem. However, in the complex three-dimensional (3D) flight environment, the planning effect of many algorithms is not ideal. In order to improve its performance, this paper proposes a UAV path planning algorithm based on improved Harris Hawks Optimization (HHO). A 3D mission space model and a flight path cost function are first established to transform the path planning problem into a multidimensional function optimization problem. HHO is then improved for path planning, where the Cauchy mutation strategy and adaptive weight are introduced in the exploration process in order to increase the population diversity, expand the search space and improve the search ability. In addition, in order to reduce the possibility of falling into local extremum, the Sine-cosine Algorithm (SCA) is used and its oscillation characteristics are considered to gradually converge to the optimal solution. The simulation results show that the proposed algorithm has high optimization accuracy, convergence speed and robustness, and it can generate a more optimized path planning result for UAVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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13 pages, 1442 KiB  
Article
Computation Offloading in UAV-Enabled Edge Computing: A Stackelberg Game Approach
by Xinwang Yuan, Zhidong Xie and Xin Tan
Sensors 2022, 22(10), 3854; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22103854 - 19 May 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2888
Abstract
This paper studies an efficient computing resource offloading mechanism for UAV-enabled edge computing. According to the interests of three different roles: base station, UAV, and user, we comprehensively consider the factors such as time delay, operation, and transmission energy consumption in a multi-layer [...] Read more.
This paper studies an efficient computing resource offloading mechanism for UAV-enabled edge computing. According to the interests of three different roles: base station, UAV, and user, we comprehensively consider the factors such as time delay, operation, and transmission energy consumption in a multi-layer game to improve the overall system performance. Firstly, we construct a Stackelberg multi-layer game model to get the appropriate resource pricing and computing offload allocation strategies through iterations. Base stations and UAVs are the leaders, and users are the followers. Then, we analyze the equilibrium states of the Stackelberg game and prove that the equilibrium state of the game exists and is unique. Finally, the algorithm’s feasibility is verified by simulation, and compared with the benchmark strategy, the Stackelberg game algorithm (SGA) has certain superiority and robustness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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22 pages, 6763 KiB  
Article
A Framework for Survey Planning Using Portable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (pUAVs) in Coastal Hydro-Environment
by Ha Linh Trinh, Hieu Trung Kieu, Hui Ying Pak, Dawn Sok Cheng Pang, Angel Anisa Cokro and Adrian Wing-Keung Law
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(9), 2283; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14092283 - 09 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2473
Abstract
Recently, remote sensing using survey-grade UAVs has been gaining tremendous momentum in applications for the coastal hydro-environment. UAV-based remote sensing provides high spatial and temporal resolutions and flexible operational availability compared to other means, such as satellite imagery or point-based in situ measurements. [...] Read more.
Recently, remote sensing using survey-grade UAVs has been gaining tremendous momentum in applications for the coastal hydro-environment. UAV-based remote sensing provides high spatial and temporal resolutions and flexible operational availability compared to other means, such as satellite imagery or point-based in situ measurements. As strict requirements and government regulations are imposed for every UAV survey, detailed survey planning is essential to ensure safe operations and seamless coordination with other activities. This study established a comprehensive framework for the planning of efficient UAV deployments in coastal areas, which was based on recent on-site survey experiences with a portable unmanned aerial vehicle (pUAV) that was carrying a heavyweight spectral sensor. The framework was classified into three main categories: (i) pre-survey considerations (i.e., administrative preparation and UAV airframe details); (ii) execution strategies (i.e., parameters and contingency planning); and (iii) environmental effects (i.e., weather and marine conditions). The implementation and verification of the framework were performed using a UAV–airborne spectral sensing exercise for water quality monitoring in Singapore. The encountered challenges and the mitigation practices that were developed from the actual field experiences were integrated into the framework to advance the ease of UAV deployment for coastal monitoring and improve the acquisition process of high-quality remote sensing images. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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19 pages, 4749 KiB  
Article
An Improved Weighted and Location-Based Clustering Scheme for Flying Ad Hoc Networks
by Xinwei Yang, Tianqi Yu, Zhongyue Chen, Jianfeng Yang, Jianling Hu and Yingrui Wu
Sensors 2022, 22(9), 3236; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22093236 - 22 Apr 2022
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1958
Abstract
Flying ad hoc networks (FANETs) have been gradually deployed in diverse application scenarios, ranging from civilian to military. However, the high-speed mobility of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and dynamically changing topology has led to critical challenges for the stability of communications in FANETs. [...] Read more.
Flying ad hoc networks (FANETs) have been gradually deployed in diverse application scenarios, ranging from civilian to military. However, the high-speed mobility of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and dynamically changing topology has led to critical challenges for the stability of communications in FANETs. To overcome the technical challenges, an Improved Weighted and Location-based Clustering (IWLC) scheme is proposed for FANET performance enhancement, under the constraints of network resources. Specifically, a location-based K-means++ clustering algorithm is first developed to set up the initial UAV clusters. Subsequently, a weighted summation-based cluster head selection algorithm is proposed. In the algorithm, the remaining energy ratio, adaptive node degree, relative mobility, and average distance are adopted as the selection criteria, considering the influence of different physical factors. Moreover, an efficient cluster maintenance algorithm is proposed to keep updating the UAV clusters. The simulation results indicate that the proposed IWLC scheme significantly enhances the performance of the packet delivery ratio, network lifetime, cluster head changing ratio, and energy consumption, compared to the benchmark clustering methods in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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20 pages, 4113 KiB  
Article
Adaptive Ascent Control of a Collaborative Object Transportation System Using Two Quadrotors
by Miroslav Pokorný, Jana Nowaková and Tomáš Dočekal
Sensors 2022, 22(8), 2923; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22082923 - 11 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1350
Abstract
The paper focuses on the issue of collaborative control of a two quadrotor (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle QDR) system. In particular, two quadrotors perform the task of horizontally transporting a long payload along a predefined trajectory. A leader–follower method is used to synchronize the [...] Read more.
The paper focuses on the issue of collaborative control of a two quadrotor (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle QDR) system. In particular, two quadrotors perform the task of horizontally transporting a long payload along a predefined trajectory. A leader–follower method is used to synchronize the motion of both QDRs. Conventional PD controllers drive the motion of the leader QDR-L to follow a predefined trajectory. To control a follower QDR-F drive, in the case of indoor applications, a Position Feedback Controller approach (PFC) can be used. To control the QDR-F, the PFC system uses the position information of QDR-L and the required accurate tracking cameras. In our solution, outdoor applications are considered, and usage of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is needed. However, GPS errors can adversely affect the system’s stability. The Force Feedback Controller approach (FFC) is therefore implemented to control the QDR-F motion. The FFC system assumes a rigid gripping of payload by both QDRs. The QDR-F collaborative motion is controlled using the feedback contact forces and torques acting on it due to the motion of the QDR-L. For FFC implementation, the principle of admittance control is used. The admittance controller simulates a virtual “mass-spring-damper” system and drives the motion of the QDR-F according to the contact forces. With the FFC control scheme, the follower QDR-F can be controlled without using the QDR-L positional feedback and the GPS. The contribution to the quality of payload transportation is the novelty of the article. In practice, one of the requirements may be to maintain the horizontal position of the payload. In this paper, an original solution is presented to minimize the horizontal position difference of both QDRs. A new procedure of the transfer admittance controller adaptation according to the mass of the transported payload is designed. The adaptive admittance FFC system is implemented in a Matlab-Simulink environment. The effectiveness of its trajectory tracking and horizontal stabilization functions for variations of the payload mass are demonstrated by numerical calculations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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19 pages, 8833 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of a Multi-Mode-Transceiver for Enhanced UAV Visibility and Connectivity in Mixed ATM/UTM Contexts
by Alexander Schelle, Florian Völk, Robert T. Schwarz, Andreas Knopp and Peter Stütz
Drones 2022, 6(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6040080 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3177
Abstract
Visibility and communication are the essential pillars for safe flight operations in dense airspaces. Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the order of up to 25 kg are increasingly being used at airports as a cost-effective alternative for maintenance and calibration work. However, [...] Read more.
Visibility and communication are the essential pillars for safe flight operations in dense airspaces. Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the order of up to 25 kg are increasingly being used at airports as a cost-effective alternative for maintenance and calibration work. However, the joint operation of manned and unmanned aircraft in busy airspaces poses a major challenge. Due to the small diameter of such UAVs, the established principle of “see and avoid” is difficult or even impossible to implement, especially during take-off and landing. For this reason, a certified Mode A/C/S transponder supporting ADS-B was extended with an embedded system and a cellular interface to realize a Multi-Mode-Transceiver (MMT). Integrated into a UAV, the MMT can provide aircraft visibility in the context of traditional manned Air Traffic Management (ATM) and future UAS Traffic Management (UTM) at the same time. This multimodal communication approach was investigated in flight test campaigns with two commercially available UAS that were connected to an experimental UTM with a simulated controlled airspace. The results confirm the safety gain of the multimodal cooperative approach. Furthermore, the collaborative interface with ATC enables the digital transmission of transponder codes, entry clearances and emergency procedures without the need for a voice radio communication. However, the parallel operation of both radio technologies in a confined space requires modifications to the transmission power and alignment of the radio antennas to avoid mutual interference. Furthermore, different reference planes of barometric altitude measurement in manned and unmanned aviation pose additional challenges that need to be addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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23 pages, 2132 KiB  
Article
MUSAK: A Multi-Scale Space Kinematic Method for Drone Detection
by Sunxiangyu Liu, Guitao Li, Yafeng Zhan and Peng Gao
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(6), 1434; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14061434 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2439
Abstract
Accurate and robust drone detection is an important and challenging task. However, on this issue, previous research, whether based on appearance or motion features, has not yet provided a satisfactory solution, especially under a complex background. To this end, the present work proposes [...] Read more.
Accurate and robust drone detection is an important and challenging task. However, on this issue, previous research, whether based on appearance or motion features, has not yet provided a satisfactory solution, especially under a complex background. To this end, the present work proposes a motion-based method termed the Multi-Scale Space Kinematic detection method (MUSAK). It fully leverages the motion patterns by extracting 3D, pseudo 3D and 2D kinematic parameters at three scale spaces according to the keypoints quality and builds three Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU)-based detection branches for drone recognition. The MUSAK method is evaluated on a hybrid dataset named multiscale UAV dataset (MUD), consisting of public datasets and self-collected data with motion labels. The experimental results show that MUSAK improves the performance by a large margin, a 95% increase in average precision (AP), compared with the previous state-of-the-art (SOTA) motion-based methods, and the hybrid MUSAK method, which integrates with the appearance-based method Faster Region-based Convolutional Neural Network (Faster R-CNN), achieves a new SOTA performance on AP metrics (AP, APM, and APS). Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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12 pages, 3938 KiB  
Article
Design and Implementation of a UUV Tracking Algorithm for a USV
by Jong-Gu Kang, Taeyun Kim, Laeun Kwon, Hyeong-Dong Kim and Jong-Sang Park
Drones 2022, 6(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6030066 - 02 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3257
Abstract
In a departure from the past, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are increasingly needed for complementary cooperation in military, scientific, and commercial applications, because this is more efficient than standalone operations. Information sharing through acoustic underwater communication is vital [...] Read more.
In a departure from the past, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are increasingly needed for complementary cooperation in military, scientific, and commercial applications, because this is more efficient than standalone operations. Information sharing through acoustic underwater communication is vital for complementary cooperation between USVs and UUVs. Normally, since USVs have advantages in terms of wide operational boundaries compared to UUVs, they are efficient for tracking UUVs. In this paper, we suggest a UUV tracking algorithm for a USV. The tracking algorithm’s development consists of three main software models: an estimation based on an extended Kalman filter (EKF) with a navigation smoothing method, guidance based on multimode guidance, and re-searching based on a pattern. In addition, the algorithm provides a procedure for tracking UUVs in complex acoustic underwater communication environments. The tracking algorithm was tested in a simulated environment to check the performance of each method, and implemented with a USV system to verify its validity and stability in sea trials. The UUV tracking algorithm of the USV shows stable and efficient performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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21 pages, 11880 KiB  
Article
Unified Accurate Attitude Control for Dual-Tiltrotor UAV with Cyclic Pitch Using Actuator Dynamics Compensated LADRC
by Zexin Wang, Yingxun Wang, Zhihao Cai, Jiang Zhao, Ningjun Liu and Yanqi Zhao
Sensors 2022, 22(4), 1559; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22041559 - 17 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2209
Abstract
This paper proposes a unified attitude controller based on the modified linear active disturbance rejection control (LADRC) for a dual-tiltrotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with cyclic pitch to achieve accurate attitude control despite its nonlinear and time-varying characteristics during flight mode transitions. The [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a unified attitude controller based on the modified linear active disturbance rejection control (LADRC) for a dual-tiltrotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with cyclic pitch to achieve accurate attitude control despite its nonlinear and time-varying characteristics during flight mode transitions. The proposed control algorithm has higher robustness against model mismatch compared with the model-based control algorithms. The modified LADRC utilizes the state feedbacks from the onboard sensors like IMU and Pitot tube instead of the mathematical model of the plane. It has less dependency on the accurate dynamics model of the dual-tiltrotor UAV, which can hardly be built. In contrast to the original LADRC, an actuator model is integrated into the modified LADRC to compensate for the non-negligible slow rotor flapping dynamics and servo dynamics. This modification eliminates the oscillation of the original LADRC when applied on the plant with slow-response actuators, such as propeller and rotors of the helicopter. In this way, the stability and performance of the controller are improved. The controller replaces the gain-scheduling or the control logic switching by a unified controller structure, which simplifies the design approach of the controller for different flight modes. The effectiveness of the modified LADRC and the performance of the unified attitude controller are demonstrated in both simulation and flight tests using a dual-tiltrotor UAV. The attitude control error is less than ±4° during the conversion flight. The control rising time in different flight modes is all about 0.5 s, despite the variations in the airspeed and tilt angle. The flight results show that the controller guarantees high control accuracy and uniform control quality in different flight modes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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22 pages, 7361 KiB  
Article
Development of Multiple UAV Collaborative Driving Systems for Improving Field Phenotyping
by Hyeon-Seung Lee, Beom-Soo Shin, J. Alex Thomasson, Tianyi Wang, Zhao Zhang and Xiongzhe Han
Sensors 2022, 22(4), 1423; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22041423 - 12 Feb 2022
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3038
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicle-based remote sensing technology has recently been widely applied to crop monitoring due to the rapid development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and these technologies have considerable potential in smart agriculture applications. Field phenotyping using remote sensing is mostly performed using unmanned [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicle-based remote sensing technology has recently been widely applied to crop monitoring due to the rapid development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and these technologies have considerable potential in smart agriculture applications. Field phenotyping using remote sensing is mostly performed using unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with RGB cameras or multispectral cameras. For accurate field phenotyping for precision agriculture, images taken from multiple perspectives need to be simultaneously collected, and phenotypic measurement errors may occur due to the movement of the drone and plants during flight. In this study, to minimize measurement error and improve the digital surface model, we proposed a collaborative driving system that allows multiple UAVs to simultaneously acquire images from different viewpoints. An integrated navigation system based on MAVSDK is configured for the attitude control and position control of unmanned aerial vehicles. Based on the leader–follower-based swarm driving algorithm and a long-range wireless network system, the follower drone cooperates with the leader drone to maintain a constant speed, direction, and image overlap ratio, and to maintain a rank to improve their phenotyping. A collision avoidance algorithm was developed because different UAVs can collide due to external disturbance (wind) when driving in groups while maintaining a rank. To verify and optimize the flight algorithm developed in this study in a virtual environment, a GAZEBO-based simulation environment was established. Based on the algorithm that has been verified and optimized in the previous simulation environment, some unmanned aerial vehicles were flown in the same flight path in a real field, and the simulation and the real field were compared. As a result of the comparative experiment, the simulated flight accuracy (RMSE) was 0.36 m and the actual field flight accuracy was 0.46 m, showing flight accuracy like that of a commercial program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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18 pages, 6675 KiB  
Article
A Method of Vision Aided GNSS Positioning Using Semantic Information in Complex Urban Environment
by Rui Zhai and Yunbin Yuan
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(4), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14040869 - 11 Feb 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2125
Abstract
High-precision localization through multi-sensor fusion has become a popular research direction in unmanned driving. However, most previous studies have performed optimally only in open-sky conditions; therefore, high-precision localization in complex urban environments required an urgent solution. The complex urban environments employed in this [...] Read more.
High-precision localization through multi-sensor fusion has become a popular research direction in unmanned driving. However, most previous studies have performed optimally only in open-sky conditions; therefore, high-precision localization in complex urban environments required an urgent solution. The complex urban environments employed in this study include dynamic environments, which result in limited visual localization performance, and highly occluded environments, which yield limited global navigation satellite system (GNSS) performance. In order to provide high-precision localization in these environments, we propose a vision-aided GNSS positioning method using semantic information by integrating stereo cameras and GNSS into a loosely coupled navigation system. To suppress the effect of dynamic objects on visual positioning accuracy, we propose a dynamic-simultaneous localization and mapping (Dynamic-SLAM) algorithm to extract semantic information from images using a deep learning framework. For the GPS-challenged environment, we propose a semantic-based dynamic adaptive Kalman filtering fusion (S-AKF) algorithm to develop vision aided GNSS and achieve stable and high-precision positioning. Experiments were carried out in GNSS-challenged environments using the open-source KITTI dataset to evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithm. The results indicate that the dynamic-SLAM algorithm improved the performance of the visual localization algorithm and effectively suppressed the error spread of the visual localization algorithm. Additionally, after vision was integrated, the loosely-coupled navigation system achieved continuous high-accuracy positioning in GNSS-challenged environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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17 pages, 5783 KiB  
Article
Proactive Guidance for Accurate UAV Landing on a Dynamic Platform: A Visual–Inertial Approach
by Ching-Wei Chang, Li-Yu Lo, Hiu Ching Cheung, Yurong Feng, An-Shik Yang, Chih-Yung Wen and Weifeng Zhou
Sensors 2022, 22(1), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010404 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 3706
Abstract
This work aimed to develop an autonomous system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to land on moving platforms such as an automobile or a marine vessel, providing a promising solution for a long-endurance flight operation, a large mission coverage range, and a convenient [...] Read more.
This work aimed to develop an autonomous system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to land on moving platforms such as an automobile or a marine vessel, providing a promising solution for a long-endurance flight operation, a large mission coverage range, and a convenient recharging ground station. Unlike most state-of-the-art UAV landing frameworks that rely on UAV onboard computers and sensors, the proposed system fully depends on the computation unit situated on the ground vehicle/marine vessel to serve as a landing guidance system. Such a novel configuration can therefore lighten the burden of the UAV, and the computation power of the ground vehicle/marine vessel can be enhanced. In particular, we exploit a sensor fusion-based algorithm for the guidance system to perform UAV localization, whilst a control method based upon trajectory optimization is integrated. Indoor and outdoor experiments are conducted, and the results show that precise autonomous landing on a 43 cm × 43 cm platform can be performed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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18 pages, 5111 KiB  
Article
Constrained ESKF for UAV Positioning in Indoor Corridor Environment Based on IMU and WiFi
by Zhonghan Li and Yongbo Zhang
Sensors 2022, 22(1), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010391 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2573
Abstract
The indoor autonomous navigation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is the current research hotspot. Unlike the outdoor broad environment, the indoor environment is unknown and complicated. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals are easily blocked and reflected because of complex indoor spatial features, [...] Read more.
The indoor autonomous navigation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is the current research hotspot. Unlike the outdoor broad environment, the indoor environment is unknown and complicated. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals are easily blocked and reflected because of complex indoor spatial features, which make it impossible to achieve positioning and navigation indoors relying on GNSS. This article proposes a set of indoor corridor environment positioning methods based on the integration of WiFi and IMU. The zone partition-based Weighted K Nearest Neighbors (WKNN) algorithm is used to achieve higher WiFi-based positioning accuracy. On the basis of the Error-State Kalman Filter (ESKF) algorithm, WiFi-based and IMU-based methods are fused together and realize higher positioning accuracy. The probability-based optimization method is used for further accuracy improvement. After data fusion, the positioning accuracy increased by 51.09% compared to the IMU-based algorithm and by 66.16% compared to the WiFi-based algorithm. After optimization, the positioning accuracy increased by 20.9% compared to the ESKF-based data fusion algorithm. All of the above results prove that methods based on WiFi and IMU (low-cost sensors) are very capable of obtaining high indoor positioning accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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20 pages, 5718 KiB  
Article
A Decentralized Sensor Fusion Scheme for Multi Sensorial Fault Resilient Pose Estimation
by Moumita Mukherjee, Avijit Banerjee, Andreas Papadimitriou, Sina Sharif Mansouri and George Nikolakopoulos
Sensors 2021, 21(24), 8259; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21248259 - 10 Dec 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2728
Abstract
This article proposes a novel decentralized two-layered and multi-sensorial based fusion architecture for establishing a novel resilient pose estimation scheme. As it will be presented, the first layer of the fusion architecture considers a set of distributed nodes. All the possible combinations of [...] Read more.
This article proposes a novel decentralized two-layered and multi-sensorial based fusion architecture for establishing a novel resilient pose estimation scheme. As it will be presented, the first layer of the fusion architecture considers a set of distributed nodes. All the possible combinations of pose information, appearing from different sensors, are integrated to acquire various possibilities of estimated pose obtained by involving multiple extended Kalman filters. Based on the estimated poses, obtained from the first layer, a Fault Resilient Optimal Information Fusion (FR-OIF) paradigm is introduced in the second layer to provide a trusted pose estimation. The second layer incorporates the output of each node (constructed in the first layer) in a weighted linear combination form, while explicitly accounting for the maximum likelihood fusion criterion. Moreover, in the case of inaccurate measurements, the proposed FR-OIF formulation enables a self resiliency by embedding a built-in fault isolation mechanism. Additionally, the FR-OIF scheme is also able to address accurate localization in the presence of sensor failures or erroneous measurements. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed fusion architecture, extensive experimental studies have been conducted with a micro aerial vehicle, equipped with various onboard pose sensors, such as a 3D lidar, a real-sense camera, an ultra wide band node, and an IMU. The efficiency of the proposed novel framework is extensively evaluated through multiple experimental results, while its superiority is also demonstrated through a comparison with the classical multi-sensorial centralized fusion approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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23 pages, 5265 KiB  
Article
A Positioning Method Based on Place Cells and Head-Direction Cells for Inertial/Visual Brain-Inspired Navigation System
by Yudi Chen, Zhi Xiong, Jianye Liu, Chuang Yang, Lijun Chao and Yang Peng
Sensors 2021, 21(23), 7988; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21237988 - 30 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
Mammals rely on vision and self-motion information in nature to distinguish directions and navigate accurately and stably. Inspired by the mammalian brain neurons to represent the spatial environment, the brain-inspired positioning method based on multi-sensors’ input is proposed to solve the problem of [...] Read more.
Mammals rely on vision and self-motion information in nature to distinguish directions and navigate accurately and stably. Inspired by the mammalian brain neurons to represent the spatial environment, the brain-inspired positioning method based on multi-sensors’ input is proposed to solve the problem of accurate navigation in the absence of satellite signals. In the research related to the application of brain-inspired engineering, it is not common to fuse various sensor information to improve positioning accuracy and decode navigation parameters from the encoded information of the brain-inspired model. Therefore, this paper establishes the head-direction cell model and the place cell model with application potential based on continuous attractor neural networks (CANNs) to encode visual and inertial input information, and then decodes the direction and position according to the population neuron firing response. The experimental results confirm that the brain-inspired navigation model integrates a variety of information, outputs more accurate and stable navigation parameters, and generates motion paths. The proposed model promotes the effective development of brain-inspired navigation research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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23 pages, 397 KiB  
Article
An Information-Motivated Exploration Agent to Locate Stationary Persons with Wireless Transmitters in Unknown Environments
by Daniel Barry, Andreas Willig and Graeme Woodward
Sensors 2021, 21(22), 7695; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21227695 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1534
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) show promise in a variety of applications and recently were explored in the area of Search and Rescue (SAR) for finding victims. In this paper we consider the problem of finding multiple unknown stationary transmitters in a discrete simulated [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) show promise in a variety of applications and recently were explored in the area of Search and Rescue (SAR) for finding victims. In this paper we consider the problem of finding multiple unknown stationary transmitters in a discrete simulated unknown environment, where the goal is to locate all transmitters in as short a time as possible. Existing solutions in the UAV search space typically search for a single target, assume a simple environment, assume target properties are known or have other unrealistic assumptions. We simulate large, complex environments with limited a priori information about the environment and transmitter properties. We propose a Bayesian search algorithm, Information Exploration Behaviour (IEB), that maximizes predicted information gain at each search step, incorporating information from multiple sensors whilst making minimal assumptions about the scenario. This search method is inspired by the information theory concept of empowerment. Our algorithm shows significant speed-up compared to baseline algorithms, being orders of magnitude faster than a random agent and 10 times faster than a lawnmower strategy, even in complex scenarios. The IEB agent is able to make use of received transmitter signals from unknown sources and incorporate both an exploration and search strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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16 pages, 3865 KiB  
Article
Vision Object-Oriented Augmented Sampling-Based Autonomous Navigation for Micro Aerial Vehicles
by Xishuang Zhao, Jingzheng Chong, Xiaohan Qi and Zhihua Yang
Drones 2021, 5(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040107 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1758
Abstract
Autonomous navigation of micro aerial vehicles in unknown environments not only requires exploring their time-varying surroundings, but also ensuring the complete safety of flights at all times. The current research addresses estimation of the potential exploration value neglect of safety issues, especially in [...] Read more.
Autonomous navigation of micro aerial vehicles in unknown environments not only requires exploring their time-varying surroundings, but also ensuring the complete safety of flights at all times. The current research addresses estimation of the potential exploration value neglect of safety issues, especially in situations with a cluttered environment and no prior knowledge. To address this issue, we propose a vision object-oriented autonomous navigation method for environment exploration, which develops a B-spline function-based local trajectory re-planning algorithm by extracting spatial-structure information and selecting temporary target points. The proposed method is evaluated in a variety of cluttered environments, such as forests, building areas, and mines. The experimental results show that the proposed autonomous navigation system can effectively complete the global trajectory, during which an appropriate safe distance could always be maintained from multiple obstacles in the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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18 pages, 4030 KiB  
Article
Estimation and Control of Cooperative Aerial Manipulators for a Payload with an Arbitrary Center-of-Mass
by Hyeonbeom Lee and Uikyum Kim
Sensors 2021, 21(19), 6452; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21196452 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2192
Abstract
This paper presents an integrated framework that integrates the kinematic and dynamic parameter estimation of an irregular object with non-uniform mass distribution for cooperative aerial manipulators. Unlike existing approaches, including impedance-based control which requires expensive force/torque sensors or the first-order-momentum-based estimator which is [...] Read more.
This paper presents an integrated framework that integrates the kinematic and dynamic parameter estimation of an irregular object with non-uniform mass distribution for cooperative aerial manipulators. Unlike existing approaches, including impedance-based control which requires expensive force/torque sensors or the first-order-momentum-based estimator which is weak to noise, this paper suggests a method without such sensor and strong to noise by exploiting the decentralized dynamics and sliding-mode-momentum observer. First, the kinematic estimator estimates the relative distances of multiple aerial manipulators by using translational and angular velocities between aerial robots. By exploiting the distance estimation, the desired trajectories for each aerial manipulator are set. Second, the dynamic parameter estimation is performed for the mass of the common object and the vector between the end-effector frame and the center of mass of the object. Finally, the proposed framework is validated with simulations using aerial manipulators combined with two degrees-of-freedom robotic arms using a noisy measurement. Throughout the simulation, we can decrease the mass estimation error by 60% compared to the existing first-order momentum-based method. In addition, a comparison study shows that the proposed method satisfactorily estimates an arbitrary center-of-mass of an unknown payload in noisy environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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20 pages, 5774 KiB  
Article
Design and Implementation of Morphed Multi-Rotor Vehicles with Real-Time Obstacle Detection and Sensing System
by Aleligne Yohannes Shiferaw, Balasubramanian Esakki, Tamilarasan Pari, Elangovan Elumalai, Saleh Mobayen and Andrzej Bartoszewicz
Sensors 2021, 21(18), 6192; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21186192 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2300
Abstract
Multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAVs) are becoming more prominent for diverse real-world applications due to their inherent hovering ability, swift manoeuvring and vertical take-off landing capabilities. Nonetheless, to be entirely applicable for various obstacle prone environments, the conventional MUAVs may not be able [...] Read more.
Multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAVs) are becoming more prominent for diverse real-world applications due to their inherent hovering ability, swift manoeuvring and vertical take-off landing capabilities. Nonetheless, to be entirely applicable for various obstacle prone environments, the conventional MUAVs may not be able to change their configuration depending on the available space and perform designated missions. It necessitates the morphing phenomenon of MUAVS, wherein it can alter their geometric structure autonomously. This article presents the development of a morphed MUAV based on a simple rotary actuation mechanism capable of driving each arm’s smoothly and satisfying the necessary reduction in workspace volume to navigate in the obstacle prone regions. The mathematical modelling for the folding mechanism was formulated, and corresponding kinematic analysis was performed to understand the synchronous motion characteristics of the arms during the folding of arms. Experiments were conducted by precisely actuating the servo motors based on the proximity ultrasonic sensor data to avoid the obstacle for achieving effective morphing of MUAV. The flight tests were conducted to estimate the endurance and attain a change in morphology of MUAV from “X-Configuration” to “H-Configuration” with the four arms actuated synchronously without time delay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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22 pages, 86940 KiB  
Article
Design, Analysis, and Testing of a Hybrid VTOL Tilt-Rotor UAV for Increased Endurance
by Siddhant Panigrahi, Yenugu Siva Sai Krishna and Asokan Thondiyath
Sensors 2021, 21(18), 5987; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21185987 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 12539
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have slowly but steadily emerged as a research and commercial hotspot because of their widespread applications. Due to their agility, compact size, and ability to integrate multiple sensors, they are mostly sought for applications that require supplementing human effort [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have slowly but steadily emerged as a research and commercial hotspot because of their widespread applications. Due to their agility, compact size, and ability to integrate multiple sensors, they are mostly sought for applications that require supplementing human effort in risky and monotonous missions. Despite all of these advantages, rotorcrafts, in general, are limited by their endurance and power-intensive flight requirements, which consequently affect the time of flight and operational range. On the other hand, fixed-wing aircrafts have an extended range, as the entire thrust force is along the direction of motion and are inherently more stable but are limited by their takeoff and landing strip requirements. One of the potential solutions to increase the endurance of VTOL rotorcrafts (Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicles) was to exploit the thrust vectoring ability of the individual actuators in multi-rotors, which would enable take-off and hovering as a VTOL vehicle and flight as a fixed-wing aircraft. The primary aim of this paper is to lay out the overall design process of a Hybrid VTOL tilt-rotor UAV from the initial conceptual sketch to the final fabricated prototype. The novelty of the design lies in achieving thrust vectoring capabilities in a fixed-wing platform with minimum actuation and no additional control complexity. This paper presents novel bi-copter that has been designed to perform as a hybrid configuration in both VTOL and fixed wing conditions with minimum actuators in comparison to existing designs. The unified dynamic modelling along with the approximation of multiple aerodynamic coefficients by numerical simulations is also presented. The overall conceptual design, dynamic modeling, computational simulation, and experimental analysis of the novel hybrid fixed-wing bi-copter with thrust vectoring capabilities aiming to substantially increase the flight range and endurance compared to the conventional aircraft rotorcraft configurations are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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37 pages, 11742 KiB  
Article
Drone-Assisted Confined Space Inspection and Stockpile Volume Estimation
by Ahmad Alsayed, Akilu Yunusa-Kaltungo, Mark K. Quinn, Farshad Arvin and Mostafa R. A. Nabawy
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(17), 3356; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13173356 - 24 Aug 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 5374
Abstract
The accuracy of stockpile estimations is of immense criticality to process optimisation and overall financial decision making within manufacturing operations. Despite well-established correlations between inventory management and profitability, safe deployment of stockpile measurement and inspection activities remain challenging and labour-intensive. This is perhaps [...] Read more.
The accuracy of stockpile estimations is of immense criticality to process optimisation and overall financial decision making within manufacturing operations. Despite well-established correlations between inventory management and profitability, safe deployment of stockpile measurement and inspection activities remain challenging and labour-intensive. This is perhaps owing to a combination of size, shape irregularity as well as the health hazards of cement manufacturing raw materials and products. Through a combination of simulations and real-life assessment within a fully integrated cement plant, this study explores the potential of drones to safely enhance the accuracy of stockpile volume estimations. Different types of LiDAR sensors in combination with different flight trajectory options were fully assessed through simulation whilst mapping representative stockpiles placed in both open and fully confined areas. During the real-life assessment, a drone was equipped with GPS for localisation, in addition to a 1D LiDAR and a barometer for stockpile height estimation. The usefulness of the proposed approach was established based on mapping of a pile with unknown volume in an open area, as well as a pile with known volume within a semi-confined area. Visual inspection of the generated stockpile surface showed strong correlations with the actual pile within the open area, and the volume of the pile in the semi-confined area was accurately measured. Finally, a comparative analysis of cost and complexity of the proposed solution to several existing initiatives revealed its proficiency as a low-cost robotic system within confined spaces whereby visibility, air quality, humidity, and high temperature are unfavourable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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25 pages, 6357 KiB  
Article
UAV Path Planning for Reconnaissance and Look-Ahead Coverage Support for Mobile Ground Vehicles
by Herath M. P. C. Jayaweera and Samer Hanoun
Sensors 2021, 21(13), 4595; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21134595 - 05 Jul 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3039
Abstract
Path planning of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance and look-ahead coverage support for mobile ground vehicles (MGVs) is a challenging task due to many unknowns being imposed by the MGVs’ variable velocity profiles, change in heading, and structural differences between the ground [...] Read more.
Path planning of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance and look-ahead coverage support for mobile ground vehicles (MGVs) is a challenging task due to many unknowns being imposed by the MGVs’ variable velocity profiles, change in heading, and structural differences between the ground and air environments. Few path planning techniques have been reported in the literature for multirotor UAVs that autonomously follow and support MGVs in reconnaissance missions. These techniques formulate the path planning problem as a tracking problem utilizing gimbal sensors to overcome the coverage and reconnaissance complexities. Despite their lack of considering additional objectives such as reconnaissance coverage and dynamic environments, they retain several drawbacks, including high computational requirements, hardware dependency, and low performance when the MGV has varying velocities. In this study, a novel 3D path planning technique for multirotor UAVs is presented, the enhanced dynamic artificial potential field (ED-APF), where path planning is formulated as both a follow and cover problem with nongimbal sensors. The proposed technique adopts a vertical sinusoidal path for the UAV that adapts relative to the MGV’s position and velocity, guided by the MGV’s heading for reconnaissance and exploration of areas and routes ahead beyond the MGV sensors’ range, thus extending the MGV’s reconnaissance capabilities. The amplitude and frequency of the sinusoidal path are determined to maximize the required look-ahead visual coverage quality in terms of pixel density and quantity pertaining to the area covered. The ED-APF was tested and validated against the general artificial potential field techniques for various simulation scenarios using Robot Operating System (ROS) and Gazebo-supported PX4-SITL. It demonstrated superior performance and showed its suitability for reconnaissance and look-ahead support to MGVs in dynamic and obstacle-populated environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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18 pages, 1129 KiB  
Article
Flying Free: A Research Overview of Deep Learning in Drone Navigation Autonomy
by Thomas Lee, Susan Mckeever and Jane Courtney
Drones 2021, 5(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020052 - 17 Jun 2021
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 11456
Abstract
With the rise of Deep Learning approaches in computer vision applications, significant strides have been made towards vehicular autonomy. Research activity in autonomous drone navigation has increased rapidly in the past five years, and drones are moving fast towards the ultimate goal of [...] Read more.
With the rise of Deep Learning approaches in computer vision applications, significant strides have been made towards vehicular autonomy. Research activity in autonomous drone navigation has increased rapidly in the past five years, and drones are moving fast towards the ultimate goal of near-complete autonomy. However, while much work in the area focuses on specific tasks in drone navigation, the contribution to the overall goal of autonomy is often not assessed, and a comprehensive overview is needed. In this work, a taxonomy of drone navigation autonomy is established by mapping the definitions of vehicular autonomy levels, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, to specific drone tasks in order to create a clear definition of autonomy when applied to drones. A top–down examination of research work in the area is conducted, focusing on drone navigation tasks, in order to understand the extent of research activity in each area. Autonomy levels are cross-checked against the drone navigation tasks addressed in each work to provide a framework for understanding the trajectory of current research. This work serves as a guide to research in drone autonomy with a particular focus on Deep Learning-based solutions, indicating key works and areas of opportunity for development of this area in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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21 pages, 1291 KiB  
Article
Auction-Based Consensus of Autonomous Vehicles for Multi-Target Dynamic Task Allocation and Path Planning in an Unknown Obstacle Environment
by Wan-Yu Yu, Xiao-Qiang Huang, Hung-Yi Luo, Von-Wun Soo and Yung-Lung Lee
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 5057; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11115057 - 30 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2398
Abstract
The autonomous vehicle technology has recently been developed rapidly in a wide variety of applications. However, coordinating a team of autonomous vehicles to complete missions in an unknown and changing environment has been a challenging and complicated task. We modify the consensus-based auction [...] Read more.
The autonomous vehicle technology has recently been developed rapidly in a wide variety of applications. However, coordinating a team of autonomous vehicles to complete missions in an unknown and changing environment has been a challenging and complicated task. We modify the consensus-based auction algorithm (CBAA) so that it can dynamically reallocate tasks among autonomous vehicles that can flexibly find a path to reach multiple dynamic targets while avoiding unexpected obstacles and staying close as a group as possible simultaneously. We propose the core algorithms and simulate with many scenarios empirically to illustrate how the proposed framework works. Specifically, we show that how autonomous vehicles could reallocate the tasks among each other in finding dynamically changing paths while certain targets may appear and disappear during the movement mission. We also discuss some challenging problems as a future work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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16 pages, 5983 KiB  
Article
Electromagnetic Field Analysis and Design of a Hermetic Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor with Helical-Grooved Self-Cooling Case for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
by Hae-Sol Lee, Myeong-Hwan Hwang and Hyun-Rok Cha
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 4856; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11114856 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1840
Abstract
As unmanned aerial vehicles expand their utilization and coverage, research is in progress to develop low-weight and high-performance motors to efficiently carry out various missions. An electromagnetic field interior permanent magnet (IPM) motor was designed and analyzed in this study that improved the [...] Read more.
As unmanned aerial vehicles expand their utilization and coverage, research is in progress to develop low-weight and high-performance motors to efficiently carry out various missions. An electromagnetic field interior permanent magnet (IPM) motor was designed and analyzed in this study that improved the flight performance and flight duration of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The output power and efficiency of a conventional commercial UAV motor were improved by designing an IPM motor of the same size, providing high power output and high-speed operation by securing high power density, wide speed range, and mechanical stiffness. The cooling performance and efficiency of the drive motor were improved without requiring a separate power source for cooling by introducing the helical-grooved self-cooling case, which has a low heat generation structure. Furthermore, the motor is oil-cooled through rotating power without a separate power source, reducing the weight of the UAV. The heat dissipation characteristics were verified by fabricating a prototype and taking actual measurements to verify the validity of the heat dissipation characteristics. The results of this study are expected to improve the flight duration and performance of UAVs and contribute to the efficiency of the design of a UAV drive motor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Autonomy for Enabling the Next Generation of UAVs)
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