Full autonomous Cross Country Soaring flights with the ThermoPilot v6.x

This is spring time and thus the ThermoPilot project is still under intensive development (now the v6.x version) and real tests flights can be conducted because the thermal upwards can be hunted above the fields... Below a sample log flight during a full autonomous thermal hunting in free mode.

 Here a flight log during a 23 km of full autonomous cross country soaring mission in closed loops with 5 waypoints.

An ArduPilot Mega 2560 is installed on the Cularis e-Glider with the ThermoPilot v6.x firmware (an enhanced version of  the ArduPlane v2.33). The ThermoPilot v6.0 includes a lot of improvements for the cross country soaring and the thermal hunting and some dedicated ML algorithms to do a close following of the thermal upwards.

Below the Cularis e-Glider and its big brother, the Fashionista: a 5 meters wingspan e-Glider (a very good thermal hunter)...

During the summer and the spring 2012, the ThermoPilot project will be very active in the air... Stay tuned...

Regards, Jean-Louis

Views: 18984

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 9, 2012 at 8:34am

JL!  I was starting to wonder what happened to you, haven't heard anything from you in a few weeks!

Interesting project you're working on here.

Comment by Jean-Louis Naudin on April 9, 2012 at 8:45am

Hello Robert,

Now, I am conducting intensive tests flights of the ThermoPilot in the airfield and dev on the v6.x...

This is really fascinating to see my glider hunting thermals upwards itself in the sky for long duration and also following the flight plan and I don't see the time flowing at this moment...  ;-)

Regards, Jean-Louis

Comment by Jean-Louis Naudin on April 9, 2012 at 8:51am

Here a 17 km cross country soaring full autonomous real test flight mission ...

Regards, Jean-Louis

Comment by Jean-Louis Naudin on April 9, 2012 at 8:54am

Here a test flight done with the ThermoPilot v6 in high wind conditions, you may notice that the small forest at the top of the map is used to do a kind of ridge soaring flight and it has worked well...


Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 9, 2012 at 8:58am

JL, does your program store waypoints of where it finds thermals and then return to them?  Or roughly speaking, how does it work?

Comment by Jean-Louis Naudin on April 9, 2012 at 8:58am

Here a 15.4 km cross-country soaring mission log with the same conditions cited above, the small forest is used to gain potential energy and thus altitude during the flight...

Regards, Jean-Louis

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 9, 2012 at 9:14am

So impressive! You'e outdone yourself with this one...

Comment by Jean-Louis Naudin on April 9, 2012 at 9:24am

Hello Robert,

The main ThermoPilot algorithm is able to find the thermal upwards itself and it is also able to keep centered around them, this works very well since one year and it has been tested in various weather conditions. During a first reco flight the gps positions of the thermal upwards are recorded and then a flight plan is generated on the ground. In the next flights the glider follows the path, this is in the v6. In the next version (v7) currently in dev, the wp are created automatically in flight while the thermal hunt is running. The current version v6 is able to record a flight plan in flight but without a direct link to the thermal upwards positions. My target now is to succeed to do long distance and long duration flights with a minimum of electrical energy spent on board...

Regards, Jean-Louis


Comment by Jan Detlefsen on April 9, 2012 at 9:30am

this is probably more fascinating than any of the ardupilot related projects i have seen so far. i used to be a glider pilot many years ago and always wondered if there would ever be a way to automate the process. well done project.

Comment by Wojciech Batog on April 9, 2012 at 9:35am

This is really impressive:)
What are you using as an input for the variometer? only the pressure sensors?
Whats the latancy?


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