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These videos are hosted by YouTube and are released under the Creative Commons CC BY license. Outdoor flights were performed in 2003 and earlier, before the FAA regulated such activity.

Nano Quadrotor with 360 degree stereo vision and optical flow, November 2016


Above is a video of the current nano air vehicle platform being used in current research, including with close collaborators.

 

Hover in place for 6 minutes, August 2009

This shows parts of a flight in which the helicopter took off, climbed to a set point, hovered in place for 6 minutes, and descended when the batteries ran out. The only human input was the tap of the keyboard at the beginning, which issued a “go” command to the helicopter. All sensing and processing was performed on-board.

6DOF hover in place, perturbation recover, August 2009

We hacked a small 7″ toy helicopter with a 3.0g sensor ring to perform hover in place. This mass includes optics, eight tiny vision chips, processing, and the ring itself. This sensor suite enables the helicopter to hold it’s position visually with respect to the environment. All sensing and processing was performed on-board.

Avoid Obstacles, January 2008

 

Helicopter is flown into various obstacles by the pilot. Sensors detect looming obstacle and take control over from human pilot to avoid obstacle.

Drive down tunnel, March 2007

 

RC car drive 3 meters per second down curvy tunnel, using only two Mantis sensors for control.

Obstacle Avoidance, October 2003

 

Avoid collisions by turning away from regions with high optic flow.

All sensing and control is performed on aircraft. Human is 100% out of the loop.

This clip shows two impressive obstacle avoidance flights. In each flight, the aircraft makes multiple turns away from trees, and comes down when the automatic throttle shut-off activates. Sharp turns away from trees are due to the obstacle avoidance algorithm. Gentle turns are due to either breezes or the rudder being slightly off-center. Also in these two flights only one person was present to set up the aircraft, launch it, and then perform videography. The resulting videos are a bit jagged as a result, but this shows that the entire system is simple enough so that research activities can be carried out by one person.

Obstacle Avoidance cont., August 2003

Avoid collisions by turning away from regions with high optic flow.

All sensing and control performed on aircraft.

This clip shows one of our most visually impressive obstacle avoidance trials in 2003. The aircraft is thrown towards a corner in the tree line, and manages to work it’s way out of the corner, avoiding trees and bushes alike. The automatic throttle shut-off activates at the end of the flight, causing the aircraft to land. The human was 100% out of the loop after launch.

Altitude control over snow, December 2002

Single optic flow sensor aimed downward measures altitude

Human steered aircraft via rudder, sensor controlled altitude via the elevator.

An unusually cold winter for the Washington, DC area gave us a chance to fly in snowy conditions. Here you see the aircraft performing altitude control over snow on a cloudy day. We also flew over unbroken snow that same day. This clips shows the sensitivity of the Ladybug sensors.

Ascend and descend hill, September 2001

Single optic flow sensor aimed downward measures altitude.

Human steered aircraft via rudder, sensor controlled altitude via the elevator, except for sharp turns at top and bottom of hill.

Ascending and descending a hill is a precursor to terrain following. This clip shows the aircraft descending and then ascending a relatively shallow (15 degree) gradient. We are looking for a test site with steep hills to test more advanced terrain following over steeper terrain.

Altitude Control, August 2001

Single optic flow sensor aimed downward measures altitude.

Human steered aircraft via rudder, sensor controlled altitude via the elevator.

This is one of the earliest demonstrations of altitude control performed at Centeye. This early optic flow sensor had only eight pixels. Two segments are shown. The aircraft was set to fly at a higher altitude in the first clip than the second. You will notice that the aircraft tends to fly higher in some directions than others. This is partially because wind affects the ground speed of the aircraft. You will also hear a tone generated by an early downlink. The tone’s frequency increases with decreased optic flow and hence increased altitude.

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