In this short blog series I’m outlining the hardware and software of The Groundhog, my entry into the recent MAAXX-Europe autonomous drone competition held at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
In this post I shall overview the approach taken to the image recognition system used to track the line being followed around the track. Remember the line is red, about 50mm across and forms an oval track 20m by 6m. We are attempting to race around as fast as we can, avoiding other UAVs if necessary.
The Groundhog was at least twice as big and probably three time as heavy as many other competitors. Why? Because it is built for endurance (flight time 35mins+) and also because it’s what I have as my development platform. It normally flies outdoors of course…
Ah, so that means no gps and flying less than 30cm from the ground also rules out an optical flow camera (they can’t focus that close). So how to control this thing?
I recently entered the first MAAXX-Europe competition to be held at the University of the West of England (UWE). On the surface it’s a simple challenge in which UAVs must follow an oval circuit of one red line, around 20m by 6m. However, this proved to be anything but simple and with few rules about how many could be on the circuit at the same time… you get the idea!
So before you read further, I didn’t win (I came 4th of 6, which I am pleased with as a hobbyist up against university teams). However, my hexacopter did complete a lap and I now know exactly what worked really well and what didn’t! And it’s that knowledge I wish to share as part of the payback for all the open-source community help I have had in the last year. Continue reading →