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Micro UAV Visual Servoing for Cooperative Indoor Exploration

Piotr Rudol and Patrick Doherty

The goal of this project is to build a system capable of performing indoor cooperative missions taking advantage of different capabilities of heterogeneous platforms:

  •  computational power and weight capacity for carrying advanced sensors of a UGV
  •  “bird’s-eye-view” of a micro UAV in  form of color or thermal video

In order to navigate a UAV must be able to localize itself in an environment and the most commonly used GPS is not available indoors. Since commercially available flight boards do not have sufficient computation power to handle the image processing and the control, cooperation of two platforms is our solution to the problem.
To enable a micro UAV to navigate indoors a vision-based pose estimation technique delivering 6DOF information  (position and attitude) has been developed. Specially designed structure using light diodes is mounted on the UAV. The UGV uses a color camera mounted on a pan-tilt unit and an image processing algorithm to calculate the UAV’s pose. Four PID loops are used to control all control channels of the UAV. This part of the project has been implemented and tested. [VIDEO]
Currently the work focuses on developing a mapping technique for a UGV which is equipped with a sweeping laser range finder. The goal is to build a 3D map of an environment which can be used to plan collision-free paths for both the UGV and the UAV. The technique aims at taking advantage of the speed of 2D SLAM with richness of information of 3D maps.

Odometry (only) Indoor Map
Corrected Indoor Map