Vision-Based Sensor and Navigation System for Autonomous Air Refueling
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Autonomous in-flight aerial refueling is an important capability for the future employment of unmanned aerial vehicles, since they will likely be ferried in flight to overseas theaters of operation instead of being shipped unassembled in containers. A reliable sensor, capable of providing accurate relative position measurements of sufficient bandwidth, is key to such a capability. This paper introduces an innovative vision based sensor and navigation system that enables precise and reliable probe-and-drogue autonomous aerial refueling for unmanned aerial vehicles. A performance robust controller is developed and integrated with the sensor system, and feasibility of the total system is demonstrated by simulated docking maneuvers to a stationary probe in turbulence. A VSTOL unmanned aerial vehicle model based on a scaled-down AV-8B is used for controller design and simulation. Results indicate that the integrated sensor and controller provide precise aerial refueling, with good disturbance rejection characteristics. © 2002 by the author(s).
author list (cited authors)
Valasek, J., Gunnam, K., Kimmett, J., Tandale, M. D., Junkins, J. L., & Hughes, D.