Monday, March 22, 2010

Qball-X4 and Qbot: Follow the leader!

The Unmanned Vehicle Systems Laboratory is one of the latest additions to the wide range of Quanser experiments. We set up a simple demo that shows just one of the many ways the UVS lab, consisting of Qbot unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), Qball-X4 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Quanser's real-time control software QUARC, and a localization system using OptiTrack(TM) cameras can be used.

In this demo we took one Qball-X4 and one Qbot and got them to cooperatively run a mission. We chose to do a simple leader-follower mission where the Qbot acts as the leader and the Qball is the follower. Both vehicles operate fully autonomously with no human controller whatsoever. The localization system tracks the vehicles' positions and sends this information to the vehicles. The vehicles can also communicate wirelessly with each other.
The mission planner first selected a few waypoints for the leader (Qbot). Once the vehicles were launched, the Qbot navigated autonomously to each waypoint. The Qball received the leader's current position 200 times each second and tried to follow the leader by flying above. Once the mission was done the Qball landed itself. Everything in the mission controller from inter-vehicle communication to flight stabilization and sensor measurements was programmed using Simulink tools and QUARC blocksets.

This mission is just one example of what can be accomplished using the open-architecture Quanser UVS Laboratory. We are looking forward to seeing what everyone else can do with the system. We will continue to develop new and exciting experiments and we hope to see others doing the same!


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