Overview of requirements for semi-autonomous flight in miniature UAVs
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An emerging research area in rotary-wing Miniature UAVs (MAVs)1 is operations in confined urban environments. This paper identifies four considerations for incrementally developing autonomy. These conclusions are based on an 8-day deployment to Biloxi, MS teleoperating an iSensys IP3 MAV for a post-Hurricane Katrina survey of structural damage to seven multi-story commercial buildings. First, the aircraft must maintain a range of 3-10m from these structures for optimal viewing while simultaneously detecting and avoiding obstacles. Second, weather conditions, particularly variable and unpredictable wind turbulence, lead to instability and can cause unrequested movements on the order of several meters. Third, given these sudden movements, complete spherical proximity sensor coverage is necessary versus conventional lateral, forward, nose-down placement. Fourth, this work suggests that 'return to last known good communications point' and 'location hold' behaviors are the logical next steps in autonomy, while GPS waypoint navigation appears less of a priority given that flight paths were dynamically changed and targeting was opportunistic in nature. The paper also discusses effective teleoperation strategies and roles of human operators.
author list (cited authors)
Pratt, K., Murphy, R., Stover, S., & Griffin, C.