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Proceedings Paper

Autonomous charging to enable long-endurance missions for small aerial robots
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Paper Abstract

The past decade has seen an increased interest towards research involving Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs). The predominant reason for this is their agility and ability to perform tasks too difficult or dangerous for their human counterparts and to navigate into places where ground robots cannot reach. Among MAVs, rotary wing aircraft such as quadrotors have the ability to operate in confined spaces, hover at a given point in space and perch1 or land on a flat surface. This makes the quadrotor a very attractive aerial platform giving rise to a myriad of research opportunities. The potential of these aerial platforms is severely limited by the constraints on the flight time due to limited battery capacity. This in turn arises from limits on the payload of these rotorcraft. By automating the battery recharging process, creating autonomous MAVs that can recharge their on-board batteries without any human intervention and by employing a team of such agents, the overall mission time can be greatly increased. This paper describes the development, testing, and implementation of a system of autonomous charging stations for a team of Micro Aerial Vehicles. This system was used to perform fully autonomous long-term multi-agent aerial surveillance experiments with persistent station keeping. The scalability of the algorithm used in the experiments described in this paper was also tested by simulating a persistence surveillance scenario for 10 MAVs and charging stations. Finally, this system was successfully implemented to perform a 9½ hour multi-agent persistent flight test. Preliminary implementation of this charging system in experiments involving construction of cubic structures with quadrotors showed a three-fold increase in effective mission time.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 June 2014
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 9083, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI, 90831S (4 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2051111
Show Author Affiliations
Yash Mulgaonkar, Univ. of Pennsylvania (United States)
Vijay Kumar, Univ. of Pennsylvania (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9083:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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