Rapid prototyping flight test environment for autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles
by Cunjia Liu, Jonathan Clarke, Wen-Hua Chen, John Andrews
International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control (IJMIC), Vol. 12, No. 3, 2011

Abstract: Test facility is essential for most engineering research activities, from modelling and identification to verification of algorithms/methods and final demonstration. It is well known that flight tests for aerospace vehicles are expensive and quite risky. To overcome this, this paper describes a rapid prototyping platform for autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed at Loughborough University, where a number of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles can perform various flight and other missions under computer control. Flexibility, maintainability and low expenses are assured by a proper choice of vehicles, sensors and system architecture. Among many other technical challenges, precision navigation of the unmanned vehicles and system integrations of commercial-off-the-shelf components from different vendors with different operational environments are discussed in detail. Matlab/Simulink based software development environment provides a seamless rapid prototyping platform from concept and theoretic developments to numerical simulation and finally flight tests. Finally, two scenarios performed by this test facility are presented to illustrate its capability.

Online publication date: Thu, 14-Apr-2011

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