Pilot a super rotorcraft!

So far all my results with rotorcraft were in simulation… until now! In this experiment, performed at TU-Delft (thanks Ewoud Smeur!), a team of four rotorcraft behaves as a single unit. The proved stability properties of the whole system allows for applications such as collaborative transportation of objects.

If you want to know the mathematical aspects and why this setup works, then check my thesis.

A wiki entry explaining how you can have the same setup running employing Paparazzi will be available soon!

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New Paparazzi autopilot Chimera released

The ENAC UAV lab is proud to release its latest autopilot board.  Named Chimera, it is based on the latest STM32F7 micro-controller and offers a large connectivity.

The design have been made with the ease of use and integration for end-users, especially researchers. With the usual features like IMU and barometer, the Chimera also carries a differential pressure sensor, a SD card slot, a XBee modem slot and a 5V power supply dedicated to external companion processor.

Please check the general pinout diagram below or the Wiki page for more details.

The Chimera have been successfully used on the hybrid airframe currently developed by Enac with the help of TUDelft for the control.

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First flights of the hybrid vehicle Cyfoam with Chimera board

The Cyfoam is a hybrid vehicle developed at ENAC Drone Lab. The aircraft is a foam, with a 3D printed fuselage, version of the composite-made Cyclone.

The vehicle is powered by the new autopilot board Chimera! which executes the control algorithms developed by Ewoud from Delft MAV Lab. We are currently aiming at a total autonomous mode, e.g., auto take off and auto landing.

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Flying Parrot’s Disco aircraft with Paparazzi

The Disco from Parrot is a fixed-wing aircraft designed for FPV with all the feature already available on their Bebop2, plus some extra things, like airspeed sensor, SBUS input and PWM outputs.

The autopilot itself is all integrated in a box called C.H.U.C.K. and it allows nice and easy flights with the SkyController2 and the Cockpitglasses, connected via Wifi.

Just like the Bebop and ARDrones, it is now possible to fly this drone using Paparazzi. Just connect to the plane, upload your code and you’re ready to go! Here is the video of the maiden flight:

More information are available on the wiki: http://wiki.paparazziuav.org/wiki/Disco

Special thanks to ArduPilot and Andrew Tridgell who implemented the driver for PWM output on this plane and his tips for debugging the Paparazzi version.

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Circle formations of fixed-wing aircraft

We have recently developed and tested a formation control algorithm for fixed-wing aircraft in Paparazzi at ENAC. The position of an arbitrary number of vehicles can be controlled in a circular path. In fact, we are not restricting ourselves to circles but to any closed orbit, such as ellipses, thanks to the guidance vector field that guides the planes.
The algorithm is under more tests, but it should be soon available for the general public. It is quite easy to employ, the user has to declare only the IDs of the planes, the communication topology (neighbors’ relationships) and the desired inter-angles. A detailed explanation will be posted soon in the wiki.
In the following video the planes exchange positions every second. Delays, out-of-date positions (GPS delays), packet losses, etc are expected to be (and actually they are) present. It is quite interesting to remark how robust the algorithm is. According to our calculations the impact of such nasty things are not very important (ofc up to a certain point) for the convergence of the algorithm.

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1Bitsy & Black Magic Probe Kickstarter

1Bitsy & Black Magic Probe Kickstarter
1Bitsy & Black Magic Probe Kickstarter

As many of you know a programmer and debugger is a tremendously useful tool for many Paparazzi UAV based autopilots like the Lisa/MX and Lisa/S.

Our friends at 1BitSquared are running a Kickstarter to make a new revision of their Black Magic Probe JTAG SWD debugger and programmer with the addition of the 1Bitsy. 1Bitsy is a development board using the same CPU as Elle0 and Lisa/MX Paparazzi autopilots. It can serve as a good prototyping platform for payload control or for your next autopilot project.

Every hobbyist and hardware enthusiast will find these boards to be an indispensable part of their tool kit. Check out their campaign and spread the word! 😀

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IMAV2016

The International Micro-Air Vehicle Conference and Competition was held last week in Beijing, China, organized by the Beijing Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore.

As usual, the level of the teams involved in the competition is higher year after year and we had a great show. The team from the MAVLAB of TUDelft was participating to both indoor and outdoor session. During the outdoor, they unfortunately couldn’t show their best due to many communication issues, preventing them to fully use their RTK Bebop2 (and also some regressions in Paparazzi code, hum hum… 🙁 ).

The next day, the indoor team did its best to perform well. And despite the difficult tasks to pick up and drop objects, they tried hard until the end. It was worth the effort as they reached the 3rd place of the competition, a few points ahead the Spanish team of Madrid (CVG-UPM)! We could almost call it a draw as both team really did their best with great spirit.

imav2016_delft_team

But, this was not their only great achievement. The paper Control of a hybrid helicopter with wings by Christophe De Wagter and Ewoud Smeur received the Best Paper Award of the conference for their work on the control issues raised by the novel design of the Delftacopter and the solution they found to solve them. Congratulation to them and all the team involved in the Delftacopter!

imav2016_paper_award

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DELFTACOPTER – Hybrid Drone on a Mission

DELFTACOPTER, an electric, long range, transitioning autonomous delta-wing helicopter, is on a mission. What mission? In this case, it’s the 2016 Outback Medical Express challenge and the MAVLab Team at TUDelft has high hopes for their hybrid aircraft.

This year’s Outback Medical Express mission requires a UAV to pick up and bring back a blood sample of an ill-fated person called “Outback Joe” located at an inaccessible roughly known location 30 kilometer away remote location with unknown terrain.

DELFTACOPTER

Powered by PaparazziUAV, the DELFTACOPTER is also equipped with state of the art on-board stereoscopic wide field of view computer vision.

Property description Value
Flight
Cruise speed 45 knots at 300 watt
Most efficient speed 35 knots at 230 watt
Maximum speed 50 knots
Physical
Weight 4kg
MTOW 4,5kg
Wing area 0,496 m2
Wing loading 8kg/m2
Span 1,54m
Length 0,6 m
Height 0,4m
Energy
Power usage in hover 280 watt
Main battery energy 10000mAh ~ 225 Wh
FTS battery energy 250mAh ~ 2Wh
RPM in forward flight 450 rpm
RPM in hovering flight 1550 rpm
Datalink
Datalink 1 protocol Iridium satellite communication
Datalink 1 range Global
Datalink 2 protocol 900 MHZ long range communication
Datalink 2 range 40km
Weather properties
Maximum wind speed 30kts
Maximum precipitation Light rain

All the best to the MAVLab Team and their DELFTACOPTER during their Outback Challenge adventures.

Related Links:
DELFTACOPTER Site
DELFTACOPTER Video
MAVLab Outback Medical Express Article
MAVLab Ambulance Drone Video
MAVLab DelFly – Robot Dragonfly Video
1BitSquared Lisa/MX Autopilot

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Research and development of open-source UAV systems since 2003