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Vision-guided flight stability and control for micro air vehicles

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4 Author(s)
Ettinger, S.M. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Florida Univ., Gainesville, FL, USA ; Nechyba, M.C. ; Ifju, P.G. ; Waszak, M.

Substantial progress has been made recently towards designing, building and test-flying remotely piloted Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) and small UAVs. We seek to complement this progress in overcoming the aerodynamic obstacles to flight at very small scales with a vision-guided flight stability and autonomy system, based on a robust horizon detection algorithm. In this paper, we first motivate the use of computer vision for MAV autonomy, arguing that given current sensor technology, vision may be the only practical approach to the problem. We then describe our statistical vision-based horizon detection algorithm, which has been demonstrated at 30 Hz with over 99.9% correct horizon identification. Next, we develop robust schemes for the detection of extreme MAV attitudes, where no horizon is visible, and for the detection of horizon estimation errors, due to external factors such as video transmission noise. Finally, we discuss our feedback controller for self-stabilized flight, and report results on vision-based autonomous flights of duration exceeding ten minutes.

Published in:

Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2002. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on  (Volume:3 )

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