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...
Below some photos taken during the Cross-Country soaring missions cited above:
Hello to All,
Today evening, I have done two successful autonomous cross-country soaring missions with the ThermoPilot v6.3c and my Cularis e-glider. I have used the SARSEC mode: at a choosen altitude and position, I have actuated (in flight) the switch on channel 7, the ThermoPilot has automatically generated a four sectors pattern (500 meters wide) and stored the GPS wp datas as a flight plan in the memory of the APM. Then, the ThermoPilot has been set automatically in Cross-Country soaring mode (AUTO mode with Thermal Hunting feature) and the Cularis has been able to fly itself following the wp.
You will find below the logs of these two real flights.
Here a new feature of the ThermoPilot. This is a new pattern for the Thermal Hunting process generated automatically by the ThermoPilot v6.3c. When the Sw on Ch7 is actuated in flight by the pilot, the ThermoPilot generates a grid at the current GPS 3D point (lat, lon alt). This grid contains 15 waypoints and the width has been preset with the mission planner (here 1000 meters wide). Then, the glider is set automatically in Cross Country Soaring mode so as it follows the flight plan and hunt the thermal upward along its new path. In the sample below, you may see that it has found a thermal upwards between the points 2 and 3... This is a very interesting feature, because no PC is required in the field for building the flight plan, the ThermoPilot do this by itself...
Yes Marco, its summer and time to do thermals hunting with the ThermoPilot... So my quadcopter is now on the shelf until the fall and it is time to fly with big gliders... ;-)
My ThermoPilot firmware is still under alpha test.
Now I understand where you were gone... :P
When you intend to release it? ;-)
Nice going, keep it up!
Here a new feature of the ThermoPilot v6.3: this is the automatic pattern generation for the Thermal Hunting relative to a pointed area.
When the switch on CH7 is actuated, a flight plan is automatically generated by the software, the flight plan containts 10 waypoints. Each waypoint are set to the relative position (lat, lon, alt) of the glider when SW7 is actuated. The pattern (above) is automatically generated and the ThermoPilot begins the Thermal Hunting process following this flight plan like a cross country soaring mission. You need only to preset the half width in meters of the pattern with the mission planner (eher 300 meters).
Thanks Paul for your comments.
As you may notice in the flight log, there is a small forest in the field, during the test, there is a strong wind (25-30 Km/h) on the leading edge of the forest which create the Lift on the top middle of the forest like a slope... This why the glider is able to get potential energy in this area.
Below a photo of the forest taken from the runway with my Fashionista glider during its initial climb.
Impressive ! Congratulations !
As a hang glider pilot, I am really impressed. We have spent years talking about how to make thermal snoopers, especially for flat-land flying where the location of house thermals is not that obvious. With this technology you could map a reasonably-sized area for house thermals and ensure that you could up and away every time (avoiding the dreaded 'turkey' flight). Of course thermals are not continuous, but at least if the pilot knew the location he could then make a judgement as to the triggering cycle.
I'm also intrigued that you found lift over a forest, I've never managed to do that, except if it was on a slope and incorporated ridge lift.