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A Vision-Based Control Method for Autonomous Landing of Vertical Flight Aircraft On a Moving Platform Without Using GPS

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Document pages: 25 pages

Abstract: The paper discusses a novel vision-based estimation and control approach toenable fully autonomous tracking and landing of vertical take-off and landing(VTOL) capable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on moving platforms withoutrelying on a GPS signal. A unique feature of the present method is that itaccomplishes this task without tracking the landing pad itself; however, byutilizing a standardized visual cue installed normal to the landing pad andparallel to the pilot s vehicle s line of sight. A computer vision system usinga single monocular camera is developed to detect the visual cue and thenaccurately estimate the heading of the UAV and its relative distances in allthree directions to the landing pad. Through comparison with a Vicon-basedmotion capture system, the capability of the present vision system to measuredistances in real-time within an accuracy of less than a centimeter and headingwithin a degree with the right visual cue, is demonstrated. A gain-scheduledproportional integral derivative (PID) control system is integrated with thevision system and then implemented on a quad-rotor-UAV dynamic model in arealistic simulation program called Gazebo. Extensive simulations are conductedto demonstrate the ability of the controller to achieve robust tracking andlanding on platforms moving in arbitrary trajectories. Repeated flight tests,using both stationary and moving platforms are successfully conducted with lessthan 5 centimeters of landing error.

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