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Autonomous Cargo Transport System for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, using Visual Servoing. Noah Kuntz and Paul Oh Drexel Autonomous Systems Laboratory Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Motivation. Helicopter cargo transport using allows delivery of payload to otherwise unreachable areas.

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Autonomous Cargo Transport System for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, using Visual Servoing

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Autonomous cargo transport system for an unmanned aerial vehicle using visual servoing l.jpg

Autonomous Cargo Transport System for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, usingVisual Servoing

Noah Kuntz and Paul Oh

Drexel Autonomous Systems Laboratory

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA


Motivation l.jpg

Motivation

Helicopter cargo transport using allows delivery of payload to otherwise unreachable areas

  • Helicopter cargo transport requires dangerous sling-load attachment maneuvers

  • Cargo must often be delivered to high risk areas, endangering the crew

UAVs CAN FIX THIS!

HOWEVER

Pictures source: http://www.mccoy.army.mil/ReadingRoom/Triad/06112004/Sling-load%20Sinai.htm


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Potential Cargo

  • Medicine

  • Specialized parts or tools for in-field repair

  • UGVs for bomb disposal or surveillance

    • Such as the Bombot, a low cost compact bomb disposal robot manufactured by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation

Left picture source: http://robotgossip.blogspot.com/2006/01/bombot-to-be-built-in-west-virginia.html


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Helicopter Cargo Carrying Tests

  • Test cargo was a small remote control UGV, for potential UGV/UAV teaming missions

  • Computer controlled takeoff, flight, and landing

  • Demonstrated suitability of the SR-100 unmanned helicopter for light cargo transport

SR-100 platform proves capable


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Cargo Carrying Methods

  • Fixed Cargo Bay

    • CONs – Requires landing, limited cargo size, decrease in maneuverability

    • PROs – Cargo is protected and stable

  • Sling Load

    • CONs – Oscillation danger, difficult attachment

    • PROs – Common, allows diverse cargo

  • Actuated Hook

    • CONs – Limits weight of cargo

    • PROs – Can provide active damping, allows autonomous attachment

Actuated Hook Wins for Unmanned Heli


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GPS Waypoint Navigation

Takeoff

Track Cargo

Hook Cargo

2

4

1

3

Concept of Operations

SR-100 is capable of Autonomous takeoff.

When criteria are met for proximity to the target, the hook is servoed through the target loop.

Autonomous hovering and GPS waypoint navigation is integral to the SR-100’s control package.

Tracking is performed with visual servoing using onboard camera and computer.


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Concept of Operations

5

6

7

Increase Altitude

GPS Waypoint Navigation

Unhook Cargo

The cargo will then be lifted off the ground.

GPS navigation will occur again.

The cargo will be set on the ground and the hook retracted.


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Technical Requirements

  • Accurate tracking in all lighting conditions

  • Reliable cargo pickup

  • Weight within capability of the helicopter


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Research Path

  • Establish load carrying ability of unmanned helicopter platform

  • Set up hardware-in-the-loop simulation environment for testing and evaluation

  • Develop the cargo pickup system in test environment

  • Refine system and retest

  • Flight test the system, for verification and validation


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Challenges

  • Overall “Mobile Manipulation” problem

  • Tracking target under variant lighting

  • Tracking while helicopter wanders

  • Servoing the hook fast enough


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Systems Integrated Sensor Test Rig (SISTR)

  • 6DOF capable with velocity control

  • Environmental simulation including lighting control

  • Allows recreation of flight conditions for testing and evaluation

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation


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SISTR Flight Data Playback

  • Recreate helicopter motion under controlled condition

  • Encoder data validates the gantry velocity controller

SISTR replicates flight movements


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Mechanism Notional

Gantry Arm

Batteries

Control Computer

Camera

IR Filter

Manipulator PTU

Camera PTU

Fiducials

Manipulator

Target


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Mechanism

  • 2DOF stepper motor camera PTU for high speed and precision

  • 2DOF hook PTU for high torque, low cost, and light weight


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Vision

  • Structured lighting approach used for initial testing

  • Target uses krypton bulbs as fiducials, with high IR emission

  • IR band-pass filter removes non-infrared light

  • Threshholding operation isolates fiducials which are tracked using image-based pose regulation

Simple tracking for low computation / high speed


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Controller

  • Control Computer

    • Mini-ITX single board computer

    • Solid state drive for vibration resistance


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Testing Procedure

Gantry replays recorded helicopter velocities

Target is placed in each of nine positions within 20 cm (GPS accuracy) from ideal


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Testing


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Results

  • Near-miss conditions could be eliminated

  • Success rate of ~83% should be possible with minor improvements

  • Closed loop pickup detection will improve


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Contributions + Future Work

  • Objectives Met

    • Accurate tracking in all lighting conditions

      • Tracking demonstrated under most difficult condition

    • Consistent cargo pickup

      • 61% - work in progress

    • Weight within capability of the helicopter

      • ~ 15 lbs, within 20 lb limit

  • Results will be confirmed with flight tests


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Acknowledgements

  • National Science Foundation

  • US Army Telemedicine Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)

  • Piasecki Aircraft Inc

  • For more info please see:

  • http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~nk752/


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