Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Club is team of undergraduate and graduate students that compete in aerial vehicle competitions yearly. The MAV Challenge was last week in Virginia Beach.
The mission consisted of taking of from a helipad and searching a known search area(20 ft squared) for a target. Once located the vehicle must hover over it for approximately thirty seconds. The vehicle must then transition back to the helipad and land. Our team was able to complete the mission fully autonomous. The arena dimensions are 100ft x 35 ft. The vehicle also is limited to 500 grams and under 1.5ft in any dimension.
A vehicle was built around a powerful computer and sized with the Georgia Tech Electric UAV Flight Time Calculator(http://controls.ae.gatech.edu/dbershad/EMSTAirTimeCalculator.html). This helped us increase our flight time from 2-3 minutes(last years vehicle) to 8-10 minutes(this year). The tool also helped us determine right size propellers and battery to use.
We use an APM 2.6 board for sensors data. We wrote code to send all the sensor information(very easily I might add thanks to all the contributors) to our computer that would process the information and then send back motor commands to the APM. The only time the APM does any processing is when the vehicle is in manual mode(stabilize mode). We are very happy with the APM and integration time was very quick. Possibly in the future we might switch to pixhawk board but we will have to see if we can determine the increase in performance is worth extra costs(maybe 3DR could sponsor our team :) ).
Other sensors that were used are a monocular camera and maxbotic sonar. We originally used the apm to process the sonar but found the analog line to be noisy when compared with using the digital line(feed thru ttl usb).
Without further adieu here is video from competition(first video with ground station view, second raw footage):
We'd like to thank APM contributors for making it easy to work with the ArduPilot. Our website is here(http://www.uavrf.gatech.edu/gtar/) which is a work in progress.