Noob here, I’m a seasoned mechanical engineer with dusty programming skills interested in developing a unique Autonomous Underwater Vehicle with ArduPilot.

My proposed motor glider AUV camera ship can be functionally described as a twin-engine flying wing with elevons and differential thrust for yaw. With slight positive buoyancy, it operates with a kind of snorkeling behavior: UHF RC, FPV and GPS topside, then on command dropping into autonomous recording missions with INS, depth sensors, and sonar for altitude and collision avoidance.

I hoping someone in this community can point me in the right direction. To control this peculiar frame, do I need to generate a custom platform configuration in, say, Mission Planner? Although it’s a submersible, it clearly resembles an aircraft more than an ROV. Where to begin? Thanks.

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Chris Anderson said:

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Thanks for your response Chris. I suppose I should have mentioned specifically that I've seen the ArduSub site. Certainly there are aspects of mission planning that are better addressed in Ardusub. I decided to post my first inquiry here after finding little architectural similarity to the tethered, fixed thruster ROV configurations there. Given that the motors, servos and flight dynamics of my AUV are directly addressed with a twin-engine flying wing architecture, I guessed that tweezing the firmware from a flying wing configuration might be a better starting point. No?  

Sure, that might work better. Just configure it like a plane and see if that works. I imagine tuning will be a challenge, however, given the lag between control surface movement and frame response. 



Chris Anderson said:

Sure, that might work better. Just configure it like a plane and see if that works. I imagine tuning will be a challenge, however, given the lag between control surface movement and frame response. 

Agreed on both points Chris. I'm guessing (again) that somewhere in the code are PID tuning parameters to adjust for the different flow dynamics, and maybe those (working) parameters can be tweezed from ArduSub(?). Since I haven't yet dug into the code, and I've never played with Open Source software, it's an assumption on my part that that level of tuning exists or is possible to integrate. I have no illusions about this being as easy as building to a predefined drone frame: fully expecting a long project, but hoping to find some expertise in the ArduPilot forums on sub-problems (no pun intended) to lessen the learning curve.  

No need to touch the code. All the tuning controls are in the ground control software, such as Mission Planner, APM Planner, QGroundControl etc. Just drag sliders

Another piece of the puzzle falls into place. Thanks. That tuning calibration gets burnt to firmware. Easy. 

Well OK then. My next questions -sonar integration, and about a dead reckoning mode (when comm and GPS black out underwater)- probably are topics for the ArduSub folks.  

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