Saturday, June 14, 2008

Qanser's Leading-Edge UAV Research Project

One of today's hot research areas is the field of cooperative, unmanned autonomous vehicles. We in Quanser want to stay on the leading edge in research and are excited about applying our controls expertise to this opportunity.

The overarching goal of our research project is to permit the seamless integration of commercial-off-the-shelf unmanned vehicles into a fully autonomous, multiagent network. This integration is designed to permit multiagent mission planners to develop scenarios and vehicle objectives without the need for intensive programming or detailed vehicle specific knowledge. Users can treat all vehicles in the network in similar fashion and can focus on specific mission level differences such as different sensors and vehicle capabilities.

Ernest (in the middle) in the CTV studio on May 27, 2008, after giving an interview on Quanser leading-edge UAV research to a TV host Omar Sachedina (left), accompanied by Quanser Engineer, Rajibul Huq (right).

In addition to this work, which is being built to allow for mission designers to go from simulation to hardware as quickly and effortlessly as possible, we are focusing our attention on permitting true autonomous control of these systems. This level of development requires a team approach and we are focussing on accomplishing the research through a close collaboration with Precarn, Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC), the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies and the U of T’s Joker Hill Ecological Preserve, for example.

Many open questions remain, such as truly representative demonstration mission types or appropriate autonomy levels in those missions. We are always looking for input on these and other aspects of the project, so drop us a line if you have some thoughts.

Quanser Unmanned Ground Vehicle Research Team (from left to right): Don Gardner, Andrew Dawes, Mahyar Fotoohi

In short, we are leveraging our and our partners’ work in developing cooperating fleets of fully autonomous vehicles to be used towards a variety of applications from search and rescue, resource surveying, even investigating climate change by monitoring leave-out patterns in forests. Our vision is to see an easy-use research and mission tool where the humans designing the applications serve more as coaches or managers rather than operators. You can only do this by taking the intelligence from the ground station, where it is currently usually found, and putting it on-board the vehicles where it can do the most good.

Dr. Ernest Earon, Senior R&D Engineer, Quanser

Qbot - Quanser mobile robot, represents another possible unmanned autonomous ground vehicle. Qbot is presented at ACC2008 Conference in Seattle and ASEE 2008 Conference in Pittsburgh. For details, contact

No comments: