Simple Waypoint Navigation for Fixed-Wing UAVs

There is a simple way to implement waypoint navigation. The algorithm was introduced by Lawrence, Frew, and Pisano back in 2008. You can view the paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.2514/1.34896.

I have flight tested this algorithm multiple times on a low-resource autopilot embarked on a fixed-wing UAV (see figure below). In this blog post, I want to share my approach to implementing this algorithm. I cannot claim any academic novelty. However, I hope to make this simple and effective algorithm more accessible to other researchers/hobbyists.

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In the remainder of this post, I will provide a high-level view of the algorithm. I will also show some flight test results. If the reader wants a more mathematical treatment of the implementation, the reader is referred to the attached PDF.

The algorithm is simple because it uses a single guidance vector field. Vector fields, in general, assign a vector to each point in space. Guidance vector fields, in particular, assign a desired velocity vector to ea

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Stereoscopic systems widely used in drone navigation, but this project is using a new approach - variable baseline.

In the related Arxiv.org (PDF) the team showcases three different applications of this system for quadrotor navigation:

  • flying through a forest
  • flying through an unknown shaped/location static/dynamic gap
  • accurate 3D pose detection of an independently moving object

They show that their variable baseline system is accurate and robust in all three scenarios.

For the video capture, the Raspberry Pi-based StereoPi board was used. Additional AI-acceleration hardware (Intel Movidus) is considered as a next step, as well as using a more powerful CM4-based version of the StereoPi (v2).

Here is the brief video of the project:

 

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Full VR Drone

Hello, people.

I decided to open a new thread to register some progress about this project. I am working on it in my spare time, and I feel excited about it.

This is a very preliminar video -- please disregard the pink view, I was using an infrared camera -- with a normal camera the video is way more clear and interesting. I also need to find better 180º (or better yet, 230º) lens. I am also willing to go full 360 degrees eventually.

So, it is an experimental Virtual Reality controlled drone with some AR features which I will show when I finish implementing them. The plan is to have one or more people walking and controlling the drone as if they were truly inside the physical aircraft. Much like the traditional FPV, but not limited to the video view only, as the crew will be able to interact and walk around freely while they fly.

I have lots of ideas to implement on this experiment. I plan to talk about them while they are implemented.

At first I wanted to show it only after I had a real fl

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Renewable drones are planned to expand at a rapid pace as the industry focuses on UAV services, line-of-sight applications, ocean-going ship tracking, inspection or wind turbine inspection, an inspection of offshore platforms and refineries, monitoring of power lines, and solar panels in the energy sector. As one way to alleviate congestion and enhance the air quality in urban areas, passenger drones have been touted. Equipped with thermal cameras, drones make it possible to conduct inspections rapidly and on a scale. On wind farms around the world, drones are changing inspections. Wind turbines are left exposed to the elements as they run - both onshore and offshore. Also, minor damage and wasted energy can cause inefficiencies. By offering rapid and remote coverage of turbines, drones will reduce the time engineers need to spend in precarious positions. The technology is also much cheaper than a manned team, ensuring that wind farms can carry out drone inspections of wind turbines wi

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NexuS UAV presentation

I want to share the first flight of the third development of a fixed wing aircraft for autonomous flight.
This design was made entirely with composite materials and the molds made with 3d printers.
tests resulted in great aerodynamic efficiency and stability and maneuverability
final weight with full payload is 2.6 kg.
for the flight he was ballasted with the final weight for flight.
we estimate endurance of 90 minutes with 10,000 mA and 4S8529323882?profile=RESIZE_710x8529327272?profile=RESIZE_710x

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Centeye Modular Vision Sensors

8529205664?profile=RESIZE_710xIt has been awhile since I’ve posted anything about recent Centeye hardware. Some of you may remember my past work implementing light weight integrated vision sensors (both stereo and monocular) for “micro” and “nano” drones. These incorporated vision chips I personally designed (and had fabricated in Texas) and allowed combined optical flow, stereo depth, and proximity sensing in just 1.1 grams. Four of these on a Crazyflie were enough to provide omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and tunnel following in all ambient lighting conditions. Their main weakness was that they were time-consuming and expensive to make and adapt to new platforms. Some of you may also remember our ArduEye project, which used our Stonyman vision chip and was our first foray into open hardware. Although that project had a slow start, it did find use in a variety of applications ranging from robotics to eye tracking. I have discussed, privately with many people, rebooting the ArduEye project in some form.

Like man

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3D Robotics

Demo of Microsoft AirSim with PX4

From the video description:

I wanted to put this video together to share what I've been working on as it relates to PX4 simulation. I've been really impressed with the capabilities of AirSim and I hope this video makes it a little easier to understand. You can learn more about AirSim here: https://github.com/microsoft/AirSim and my GitBook notes can be found here: https://droneblocks.gitbook.io/airsim... To learn more about DroneBlocks please visit: https://www.droneblocks.io Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions and I hope to share more information in the near future. Thanks for watching.

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Quick install BatMon v4 released

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BatMon v4 released
One of the main challenges faced with BatMon was the installation overhead. Installing BatMon v3 took over an hour on a new battery pack. Second challenge was the cost overhead of a BMS system on each battery. We have reduced these issues significantly with the BatMon v4 release.
  • v4 is super fast to install on most batteries with a tool, and connects to the balance leads.
  • The modular board make it possible to reuse BatMon after end of life of a battery. The XT90 leads can be replaced if they are worn, but can practically be reused few times, reducing the cost overhead on each smart battery pack.

 

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3D Robotics

Clever research from ETH showing how it uses the drone camera to maintain position while a quadcopter spins to maintain control after one motor fails. 

From DroneDJ:

Researchers at the University of Zurich and the Delft University of Technology have been able to keep a drone flying after a motor fails. The researchers have managed to use onboard cameras to keep the test drones in the air and flying safely.

 

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team of researchers has come up with a simple yet ingenious way to solve a problem that will usually result in a drone falling to the ground due to a motor failure.

Well, motor failures don’t often happen, but when they do, the drone needs to stay in the air regardless, especially if people are nearby or the drone is being used for a commercial job. Redundancy is important when it comes to drones.

Davide Scaramuzza, head of the Robotics and Perception Group at UZH and of the Rescue Robotics grand challenge at NCCR Robotics, shared:

When one rotor fails, the drone begins

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Zion Market Research has published a new report titled “Drone Logistics and Transportation Market By Solution (Shipping, Warehousing, Software, and Infrastructure), By Drone (Passenger, Freight, and Ambulance), and By Sector (Commercial and Military): Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2018–2025”. According to the report, the global drone logistics and transportation market was USD 4.56 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach around USD 18.05 billion by 2025, at a CAGR approximately 21.9% between 2019 and 2025.

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Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are small aircrafts that don’t have a human pilot onboard that can either operated remotely or automated and travel with the help of GPS coordinates. They are made of light material to reduce weight, which enables them to fly at high altitudes. Drones are controlled by a ground cockpit and can easily return to their marked starting position in case of low battery or when the drone loses contact with

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Drone on Demand: Software Solution for On-Demand-Drone Services

Drone-on-demand refers to a service that provides a drone solution for a specified time or perpetually to accomplish certain business objectives. Such services exist because we have reached a point where there is reliable, off-the-shelf hardware and software available to create enterprise-grade drone solutions.

Enterprises who avail such services see business value in the easy availability of aerial data at a reasonable price, which was not possible a few years ago. Apart from aerial intelligence, drone-based delivery is another segment that has seen a jump in demand in recent times.

Companies that operate drones have to abide by regulatory requirements, which include airspace norms that ensure security, safety, and privacy. While there remain challenges around technology (e.g. battery life, fail-safes), this commercial drone segment is quite lucrative; according to the market research firm, Markets-and-Markets, the drone services market is estimated to reach 63.6 billion dollars by 2025 at a CAGR of 55.9% from 2019 to 2020.

Use Cases for a Drone-on-Demand Service Provider


While these services are relatively new, and people are still discovering new ways to use them, there are immediate use cases where such services are yielding tremendous commercial benefits. Some of them are listed below.

Roof Inspection of private and commercial estates: Roof inspection is a popular application of drones because aerial inspections can do the job quickly, versus manual ones, at a lower cost. Drones also bring in a level of data sophistication in the entire inspection process. With technologies like thermal and 3D imaging, a drone combined with intelligent software can automatically detect things like water damage, insulation issues, structural damages, etc.

While a property owner/caretaker may not wish to own drones and find skilled pilots to operate them, services provided by drone-on-demand companies can be a practical and economical solution.

Aerial inspection of construction sites: Inspections are common at a construction site. But with a drone, a pilot can inspect the outer facades of such structures without the need of manpower and heavy equipment. Since operations like this require skilled pilots, specialized drones, and sophisticated software, a drone-on-demand service, customized for construction applications, can make a lot of business sense.

drone on demand for construction

Emergency Response: There are several drone solution providers that are specialized in emergency response projects. For example, a US-based company called Phirst Technologies, LLC has developed a drone-based first responder system called First iZ, using FlytBase’s technology, that integrates with the CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system which powers the 911 emergency services in Tyler, Texas, USA. This system allows emergency operators to dispatch drones from a unified dashboard to gather information on an emergency situation and pass on the information to human responders who can arrive later, better informed, and prepared.

Public Safety: Drones are extensively used in operations like search and rescue, crowd control, disaster assessment, etc. In an event, Airworks 2019, DJI had announced that drones saved the lives of 279 people. There are service providers who specialize in public safety operations.

drone on demand for public safety

Industrial inspection: Drones are an important tool in the energy and utility sectors. Drones are used for inspecting refineries and gas pipelines to detect damages such as corrosion and cracks. They are also flown over wind turbines to inspect the blades. Such activities require a fair amount of specialization in aerial navigation, which is why there are sector-focused service providers for such drone applications.

Live Video Streaming From Drones

Security and surveillance: There are numerous companies that provide turnkey, drone-based security solutions for some of the following use-cases:

  • Event surveillance
  • Crown monitoring
  • Intrusion detection
  • Border security


drone security operations

Drone delivery: The concept of using drones for last-mile delivery has been around for almost a decade. Since the technology involved is challenging, service providers in this space are highly specialized and tend to focus on a specific kind of package deliveries. For example, Zipline is a company that provides an autonomous drone solution for medical deliveries.

drone delivery operations infographics

Note: Download our comprehensive guide on how to set up a drone delivery operation using Flytnow.

How FlytNow Business/Enterprise Enables a Drone-on-Demand Service


A drone-on-demand service provider brings the hardware and software together to deliver a turnkey solution for a particular use case. FlyBase, an enterprise drone automation software company, offers FlytNow to such companies. FlytNow is a cloud-based video-streaming and fleet management solution that also provides edge-level intelligence to conduct a variety of drone operations.

How FlytNow works?


FlytNow is a cloud-based application that has a dashboard, which can be accessed from a web browser. A user can connect a drone with FlytNow either using our FlytOS mobile app or the SBC cloud connect software kit. Below is an illustration that explains the setup.

drone software

Note: we have the enterprise version that supports the integration of ground-based hardware as well.

There are two versions of FlytNow that are suitable for drone solution providers: Business and Enterprise.

FlytNow Business


The Business version is an out-of-the-box solution, with the following features:

Live video streaming from the drone to the FlytNow dashboard: Video can be streamed from multiple drones on a single screen with the ability to share them with anyone via an email. This feature is useful for commercial providers who offer services related to:

  • Remote roof inspection.
  • Construction site inspection (read our case study).
  • Surveillance.
  • Delivery.
  • Emergency and public safety.
  • Industrial inspections.


With FlytNow, a drone operator can fly a drone over a roof/construction site/inspection site and live-stream the video to stakeholders sitting hundreds of miles away. Similarly, during an emergency response or a delivery operation, live streaming can be used to gather situational information.

drone software for on demand services

Video archiving: FlytNow supports the integration with an Amazon S3 instance, which is used to store incoming video feeds. The videos are automatically stored, and the feature is useful in:

  • Surveillance.
  • All forms of inspection.
  • Emergency and public safety.


All archived videos can be accessed from the FlytNow dashboard with time and date stamps.

flytnow for drones

Thermal Camera Support: FlytNow supports streaming from a thermal camera. The feature is useful in:

  • Detecting water damage during a roof inspection.
  • Spotting structural damages during a construction site inspection.
  • Spotting leakages during refinery or pipeline inspections.
  • Intruder detection during night time.
  • Identify trapped/lost victims during search and rescue operations.


Learn how FlytNow can enhance night time surveillance.

drones for search and rescue

Map annotation: FlytNow dashboard has a built-in map that shows the real-time location of drones that are online. The map also supports adding a description in way-points. The feature can be used to record information during.

  • An inspection of a roof/building.
  • Pipeline/refinery/wind-turbine inspections, to record useful findings.
  • Surveillance.
  • Record situational information during an emergency mission.


Mission Planner: It is an advanced feature that allows an operator to define a route from point A to point B with waypoints for a drone to follow. This feature can be useful in:

  • Surveillance operations, where a drone can be made to go on a patrol on a predefined path.
  • Public safety and emergency operations, where a drone can be programmed to go to a location and monitor the situation.
  • Industrial inspections, where a drone can complete a pipeline inspection autonomously over a predefined path.
  • Defining a delivery route for drone delivery.


Support for custom drones: FlytNow supports enterprise DJI drones and custom drones based on PX4 and Ardupilot. Custom drones are required for specific tasks like delivery which requires long-range and heavy payload carrying capabilities. This means a service provider using FlytNow is not restricted to a particular drone hardware platform.

FlytNow Enterprise


The Enterprise version covers everything that the Business version has to offer, plus customized modules for large scale deployment of drones with extensive flight automation. These include:

AI-based features: FlytBase provides an operating system (FlytOS) that is installed in a single-board computer, which is fitted on a drone. This makes the drone capable of performing the following things under the Enterprise plan:

drone in a box solution

  • Precision landing: Allows the drone to land on a machine-generated tag.
  • Object detection: Allows the drone to classify ground objects using the on-board camera.
  • Obstacle avoidance: Allows the drone to navigate around obstacles automatically.
  • Custom payload integration: Allows remote operation of custom made payloads as well as payloads from DJI for Mavic 2 Enterprise.


Integration with ground-based hardware: The enterprise version comes with the option to integrate with various ground-based hardware like:

drone in a box

  • Charging pad: A platform that charges a drone when it lands on it. The Enterprise version can be easily integrated with charging pads from Skysense.
  • Drone-in-a-box hardware: A docking station that completely houses a drone and keeps it fully charged.


Integration with third-party software: The Enterprise version also supports integration with third-party applications for the following:

  • UTM Intelligence: It is required to acquire airspace information so the drone does not interfere with manned aircraft and complies with legal norms. FlytNow Enterprise has native support for Airmap.
  • Logging applications: Such applications capture the flight data for a drone. FlytNow Enterprise has native support for Dronelogbook.


Advanced flight planning: FlytNow Enterprise has features to precisely control drone flights and ensure the safety of drones around human populations. Some of those features are:

  • Advanced geofencing: Precisely defines the area of operation of a drone with the help of polygons.
  • Custom NFZ integration: It is the ability to define No-Fly-Zones for drones.
  • Advanced failsafes: It refers to the ELP (Emergency Landing Point) feature that allows a drone operator to define emergency landing points alongside a predefined route. ELPs come in handy when a drone in a BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) mission has to do an emergency landing.


The Enterprise version is ideal for service providers who are into making systems where drones can takeoff autonomously after receiving a command, automatically go to a location and perform their mission and come back safely after complete the mission. In a nutshell, it provides customization, automation, and scalability.

Summary


In this blog, we learned about drone-on-demand services and the use-cases they are relevant. We also learned about FlytNow Business and Enterprise editions, what each has to offer, and how each can enable drone service providers.

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