Post 2. MAAXX-Europe. The Groundhog Hardware

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The Groundhog Hardware

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?

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Post 1. MAAXX-Europe 2017

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The Challenge

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

03. MRes in UAV Co-operative Mapping. Getting Control of the Flight Management Computer

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Connecting the Pixhawk FMU to a Raspberry Pi 2

 

Project Recap:

My Masters project within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is to design a system of UAVs that can be deployed in groups to co-operatively map the structure of their environment.  This is envisaged as an internal environment, however it is expected that the technologies developed may be additionally adapted for external mapping.  This series of posts documents key elements of the project.  So far we have set the objectives and built an airframe based on a standard 450 quadcopter configuration.

Post Objective:

An on-board Raspberry Pi will have overall control of the UAV.  This post shows how we can set up communications between the Raspberry Pi 2 and a Pixhawk flight management unit,  using the Mavlink messaging protocol, so that the Raspberry Pi can take control of navigation.

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02. MRes in UAV Co-operative Mapping. Airframe Construction.

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Two on-board computers and plenty of space for sensors. Oh yes, it flies rather well too!

Project Recap:

My Masters project within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is to design a system of UAVs that can be deployed in groups to co-operatively map the structure of their environment.  This is envisaged as an internal environment, however it is expected that the technologies developed may be additionally adapted for external mapping.  This series of posts documents key elements of the project.

Post Objective:

This post shows the construction of the new airframe being used for development.

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01. MRes in UAV Co-operative Mapping. Objectives.

Initial research platform. Pixhawk and Raspberry Pi.
Initial research platform. Pixhawk and Raspberry Pi.

Research A major part of my Masters by Research at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is the research project itself.  I am developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with the following capabilities:

  1. Able to fly autonomously in a confined space and to map that space.
  2. Able to join with others in a swarm to map the space about them.
  3. Able to identify and locate others in the swarm by:
    1. recognising broadcast ID signals;
    2. using other means to recognise and identify other vehicles (e.g. image recognition).
  4. The objective is that these should eventually be fixed wing, rather than multi-rotor.

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Electric Vehicle/Robot Sound Synthesiser

EV Synthesiser arrangement in project box.
EV Synthesiser arrangement in project box.

Introduction

A potential issue for electric vehicles and robotics in general is that they move relatively silently. This can pose safety issues when the vehicle/robot is in close proximity with people.

As an aside to my main UAV research project, the synthesiser explores how sounds can be created that relate to the movement of an electric vehicle or robot.

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MicroView GPS – displaying data

 

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Introduction

This builds on Project 006a, in which we simply connected a GPS unit to our Microview and checked we were getting some data.  Now to make some sense of that data and display it!

This is a bit of a step-up in terms of code, which is why I have left an intermediate Project 006b available in case I need to retrace.  I’m sure people will let me know..

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