First Symposium on Indoor Flight Issues

The First Symposium on Indoor Flight Issues was held on Tuesday, 21 July 2009 on the campus of the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez. Links to the .pdf versions of the Symposium papers are provided below:
The Quest for Indoor Flight (KEYNOTE)
Robert C. Michelson
Principal Research Engineer Emeritus
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, GA USA
Just as birds and insects are not found flying during adverse weather events, neither should micro air vehicles (MAV). Better assets exist for the conduct of outdoor unmanned aerial system missions than MAVs, however no assets exist for rapid ingress and reconnaissance of buildings, caves, and deeply buried underground facilities. This paper explores the characteristics of these mission spaces and shows why the real niche for the micro air vehicle is as an indoor asset.
An ILS Inspired Approach and Departure System Utilizing Monocular Vision
H. Claus Christmann
Graduate Research Assistant
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA, USA

Eric N. Johnson
Lockheed Martin Associate Professor of Avionics Integration
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA, USA
This paper introduces a simple system to provide relative position between a base unit and an active unit. The proposed system is directional and allows the active unit to approach or depart from the base unit along a linear path, determined by the orientation of the base unit. The system does not require a data link between the base and the active unit, just a clear line of sight. The proposed system utilizes monocular vision on the active unit and requires the availability of enough computational power to perform simple computer vision algorithms. Part I describes the physical characteristics of the beacon utilized on the base unit. Part II describes the algorithms utilized to compute the relative position of the active unit to the base, utilizing the vision data. Part III presents simulation results. Part IV discusses the results and findings and proposes future work.
Low Cost Guidance, Navigation, and Control Solutions for a Miniature Air Vehicle in GPS Denied Environments
Girish Chowdhary, John Ottander, Erwan Salaün, Eric Johnson
UAV Research Facility, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA USA
This paper discusses methods, algorithms, and results for control of Miniature Air Vehicles (MAV) operating in cluttered GPS denied environments. Off the shelf range sensors are used to provide local position information. The output of the sensors is processed through a Kalman filter algorithm enabled with outlier detection that reduces the likelihood of allowing bad measurements to corrupt control output. A simple Guidance Navigation and Control algorithm is proposed that ensures that maximum indoor area is explored by exploiting the inherent structure of indoor environments. A key aspect of the proposed approach is that it relies only on information from low cost commercially available range sensors and the proposed UAV along with all sensors and communication devices can cost as little as USD900. Furthermore, the algorithms presented here do not pose a significant computational burden on onboard embedded processors. A method for rapidly developing and testing control algorithms is also presented that uses the user friendly MATLAB environment.
Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Team 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition Entry
Girish Chowdhary, H. Claus Christmann, Dr. Eric N. Johnson, M. Scott Kimbrell, Dr. Erwan Salaün, D. Michael Sobers, Jr., Major, USAF
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA USA
This paper examines the use of low-cost range and target identification sensors on a stable flying vehicle for suitability in solving the 5th Mission proposed for the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition. The ability for vehicles to navigate unknown environments is critical for autonomous operation. Mapping of a vehicle's environment and self-localization within that environment are especially difficult for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) due to the complexity of UAV attitude and motion dynamics. Using a stable vehicle platform and taking advantage of the geometric structure typical of most indoor environments reduces the complexity of the localization and mapping problem to the point that wall and obstacle location can be determined using low-cost range sensors. Target identification is accomplished remotely using an onboard video camera with a radio transmitter. Thus complex and time-consuming image processing routines are run on a more powerful computer, enabling further miniaturization of the flight vehicle.
SamarEye System, A Method for Searching Closed Quarter Environments
Michael Bakula, Christopher Hockley, Rajan Khatri, Christopher Kirby, Christopher Sammet, and Dr. Charles Reinholtz
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, FL USA
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has developed SamarEye, a novel Autonomous Aerial System (AAS), to compete in the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition. Responding to the challenges associated with flight in Closed Quarter Environments (CQE), the SamarEye AAS has evolved to incorporate distributed cognition, lightweight sensing, and simple robust behaviors in a compact cost-effective package. The samara-based air vehicle embodies simplicity, low weight, and elegant aerodynamic design in an operationally apt CQE platform.
Autonomous Navigation and Exploration of a Quadrotor Helicopter in GPS-denied Indoor Environments
Markus Achtelik(1), Abraham Bachrach(2), Ruijie He(2), Samuel Prentice(2) and Nicholas Roy(2)
(1) Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
(2) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA USA
This paper presents our solution for enabling a quadrotor helicopter to autonomously navigate, explore and locate objects of interest in unstructured and unknown indoor environments. We describe the design and operation of our quadrotor helicopter, before presenting the software architecture and individual algorithms necessary for executing the mission. Experimental results are presented demonstrating the quadrotor’s ability to operate autonomously in indoor environments. Finally, we address some of the logistical and risk management issues pertaining to our entry in the competition.
Design and Development of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s Aerial Robotic Reconnaissance System
Raunaq Bhushan, John Heiberger, Adam Helmers, Brian Jensen, Erik Kaitfors, Richard Murtland, Jacob Oursland, Mason Pluimer, Jamie Vickery, Justin Williamson
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team
Rapid City, SD USA
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team will participate in the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition with a single quadrotor helicopter. The vehicle has been designed to autonomously locate and enter a one square meter opening, traverse a series of obstacles in search of a control panel, and transmit live video of the target gauge to an operator control unit. To achieve the desired level of autonomy, a Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm and an Extended Kalman Filter provide a state estimate for a Fuzzy Logic flight controller. Communications between an onboard embedded computer and an operator control unit meet Level 2 JAUS compliance.
Design and Implementation of an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle for Information Gathering in a Simulated Autonomous Environment
Nathanael B. Edwards(1), Cynthia H.T. Edwards(1), Bradley Nelson(1), Joseph Tomlinson(1), Aaron Moore(2)
(1)Oregon State University College of Engineering, Corvalis, OR USA
(2)Revolution Robotics, Inc.
An autonomous quad rotor aerial robot is developed for the purpose of indoor surveillance where human intervention may not be possible. The robot is comprised of four outrunner motors connected directly to two sets of counter rotating propellers, a high resolution IMU (inertial measurement unit), an ARM processor running at 600 MHz with 256 MB RAM, a carbon fiber chassis, and a lithium polymer power source. The robot is capable of completely autonomous operation, with missions that can be changed and redefined by simple reconfiguration. The vehicle is sized so that it can navigate most human navigable construction, and can assist in calamity recovery and investigation for a wide range of disasters, both natural and man made. This vehicle is designed for entry in the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition.
Virginia Tech Entry to the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition
Phillip Beecher, Amber Franklin, Jason Gassaway, Aaron Oberste, Jessica Wright
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universitiy
Blacksburg, VA USA
This paper details the Virginia Tech autonomous aerial vehicle to be entered into the 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition. This paper reviews the problem statement of the competition and the overall system architecture the Virginia Tech team created to solve this challenge. The paper explains the physical design of the vehicle, as well as the sensors and communications used for the mission. Also, the operations of the vehicle are shown and the safety features of the vehicle are explained.
Development of an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Capable of Indoor Navigation
Ravikanth A, C R Raviteja, NNVS Pavan Kumar, Vamsimohan Ch Vikram, R Shah Hem Rampal, Kashyap G Pradeep M, Kedar Kulkarni
Indian Institute of Technology
Madras, Chennai, India
Team Swift of Indian Institute of Technology Madras is participating in the 19th edition of International Aerial Robotics Competition conducted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The problem is to find a target which is identifiable by a warning tone and a set of blinking Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) using an autonomous aerial vehicle. A video of the display present on the target is to be transmitted at the end. The display is identified by a blue LED below it. The approach to the solution involves a quadrotor helicopter enabled with a combination of Stability Augmentation System for stability, Simultaneous Localization and Mapping for positioning, Image processing and Sound signal processing for target detection and Nearness diagram method for obstacle avoidance. This paper epitomizes the design of the various components and subsystems of the aerial robot.
Development of a Low Cost Autonomous Indoor Aerial Robotics System
Zack Jarrett, Christopher Miller, Frank Manning
Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ USA

Tete Barrigah, Huihong Kuang, Tyler Nelson
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ USA
The Pima Community College UAV Club has designed an autonomous aerial vehicle system to compete in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). A hovering air vehicle is intended to fly through an open portal and enter a simulated control room of a nuclear power plant. The vehicle travels at eye-level and navigates through a cluttered indoor environment by using a combination of optical flow and SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping). The objective is to locate a control panel and transmit video of the panel to a remote ground station. The vehicle is linked to ground-based computers, and the system is required to be completely autonomous.
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