Avionics & Control

Avionics and Control

The general architecture, considered in relation to the three layers associated to the three prototypes (see here), is sketched in the figure below.

An overview of the specific engineering fields, objectives and technologies is presented in the following:

1. Energy supply. Lithium polymer technologies and brushless dc motors will be used. To address the requirements of inspection, missions implementing the possibility to connect an external power cable for longer flight times is also considered.

2. Low-level sensors. The low-level avionics will provide all means to implement attitude stabilization and altitude control. Low power consumption, low weight and high accuracy will be the governing criteria for the integration of the corresponding components.

3. Communication system. The data retrieved from the low-level sensors will be transmitted wirelessly to a ground station. The corresponding module will be an off-the-shelf solution (expectedly ZigBee 802.15.4 technology) with long transmission range and low power consumption. An additional high-bandwidth channel (expectedly 802.11 g/n) will allow wireless transmission of images from an industrial high quality camera to a ground station.

4. Processing system. On the low-level processing system all low-level control, sensor fusion and filtering will be implemented. Additional high-level computing modules will be integrated providing enough processing power to run the algorithms responsible for the localization and navigation of the vehicles. A high number of I/O interfaces on the low-level and high-level processing systems will provide the required flexibility and modularity.

5. Localization system. Selection of exteroceptive off-the-shelf sensors, such as cameras, 2D range finders, and GPS are considered at this stage. The corresponding sensors will allow localization of the aerial robot in GPS-denied environments. A GPS module will provide additional position estimates if a corresponding signal is available from satellites (outdoor) or pseudo-satellites (indoor).

6. Application specific tools. Inspection tools will be added to the prototypes, in order to allow inspection specific manipulations. Possible tools are a lighting system to operated in dark environments, cleaning devices (miniature grinder to remove rust and dirt) or lightweight NDT-sensors (e.g. to take wall thickness samples of metallic structures).