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Closely Supervised Reactive Control of an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle

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Master's thesis

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Currently, control of an uninhabited aerial vehicle UAV in flight is accomplished by manual control or a prior prescription of waypoints. The use of waypoints requires knowledge of vehicle position from either an Internal Navigation System INS or by using the Global Positioning System GPS. This thesis proposes an alternative control method that incorporates some of the beneficial aspect of both fully manual and fully autonomous operation. Utilizing an on-board camera, an operator can control an uninhabited aerial vehicle by manually choosing desired targets of interest. The flight path of the uninhabited vehicle is determined autonomously from the camera gimbal angles. Specifically, the camera azimuth angle and elevation angle are transformed by an autopilot, providing commands to the aircraft. In this shared control operation, the operator of the payload i.e. camera, has close supervision of the aircraft. The aircraft using an on-board computer is given autonomous control of aircraft flight, reducing personnel requirements. The aircraft controls the operations to alter flight path to reorient the aircraft to fly towards a target and at a specified range, loiter over the target. In the most basic mode of operation, the camera operator must manually track the target providing continuous updates to the camera angles. In an advanced mode of operation with the use of an INS or GPS, the aircraft autonomously determines the camera angles from a single locked target position that the operator specifies. The camera angles autonomously determined are referred to as virtual camera angles and are used to control the aircraft in the same manner as real camera angles. With the use of the virtual camera angles, the operator is free to look for other targets or perform other tasks. As an added safe mode, in the event of data transmission loss, the aircraft will fly straight and level in its current direction.

Subject Categories:

  • Pilotless Aircraft

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