Friday, October 3, 2008

Quanser In Flight


Today is an exciting day. We are heading up to the field to do some flight tests with the X6 helicopter and some UGV tests. I’ll be testing the X6 while Rajib tests the UGV (unmanned ground vehicle), then once everything is working (in the next couple of weeks) we can get them to talk to each other and put it all together in a collaborative mission.

The X6 is a fantastic new heli from Draganfly with 6 motors and rotors, on-board GPS and autopilot. We’ve attached a Gumstix pack and a camera to the bottom of the X6, which communicates with the X6 through the QuaRC Vehicle Abstraction Layer (VAL). The VAL basically lets us read the vehicle state and send waypoint commands to the heli or other vehicles like the fixed-wing zagis. We use high-level VAL blocks to program a mission in Simulink (eg. Takeoff, Go to waypoint, Loiter, Land, etc.). Once we compile the mission and download it to the embedded gumstix system, the mission runs and the heli flies by itself! My goal today with the X6 is to make sure it can go through a set of GPS waypoints without any problems. If the simple waypoint test works then I have a mission setup where the waypoints are continually generated in a flat circle pattern, which should make the X6 track a circle in the air. I already tried this algorithm on the fixed-wing zagi UAVs with some success. The zagis have to move much faster than the X6 helicopter, so the X6 should be able to achieve more precise paths. The hovering capabilities of the X6 will come in very handy when we use it to identify ground targets. If we have time today, I would like to use the on-board camera on the X6 to take ground photos of a bright orange tarp and try to identify its position on the ground. All these tests will come together by the end of the month and we will have an amazing demo using two fixed-wing zagis, the X6 helicopter, and the UGV working collaboratively to complete a mission. But I won’t spoil the surprise yet ;) stay tuned!

-Cameron, R&D Engineer, Quanser

3 comments:

Antoine said...

Out of curiosity, which gumstix did you use exactly?

Antoine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

We use the Verdex gumstix with the wifi and breakout boards attached.

-Cameron, R&D Engineer, Quanser