Selected Aspects of Navigation and Path Planning in Unmanned Aircraft Systems

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) are an important future technology with early generations already being used in many areas of application encompassing both military and civilian domains. This thesis proposes a number of integration techniques for combining control-based navigation with more abstract path planning functionality for UASs. These techniques are empirically tested and validated using an RMAX helicopter platform used in the UASTechLab at Linköping University. Although the thesis focuses on helicopter platforms, the techniques are generic in nature and can be used in other robotic systems.At the control level a navigation task is executed by a set of control modes. A framework based on the abstraction of hierarchical concurrent state machines for the design and development of hybrid control systems is presented. The framework is used to specify  reactive behaviors and for sequentialisation of control modes. Selected examples of control systems deployed on UASs are presented. Collision-free paths executed at the control level are generated by path planning algorithms.We propose a path replanning framework extending the existing path planners to allow dynamic repair of flight paths when new obstacles or no-fly zones obstructing the current flight path are detected. Additionally, a novel approach to selecting the best path repair strategy based on machine learning technique is presented. A prerequisite for a safe navigation in a real-world environment is an accurate geometrical model. As a step towards building accurate 3D models onboard UASs initial work on the integration of a laser range finder with a helicopter platform is also presented.Combination of the techniques presented provides another step towards building comprehensive and robust navigation systems for future UASs.

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