Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unmanned Vehicle Systems Lab - AIAA GNC 2010

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to present Quanser’s Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS) Lab in front of an engaged crowd of 120+ engineers and researchers from all around the world. This year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Guidance Navigation Control (GNC) 2010 Conference was held here in downtown Toronto! Guidance, Navigation and Control is a branch of engineering dealing with the design of systems for vehicles (such as aircraft or spacecraft) to enable automatic or remote control or to improve manual control. Here are a few questions that many people often ask:

What are some potential applic
ations of unmanned vehicle systems?

Some of my favorite applications include Search & Rescue, Space and Agricultural Monitoring. Unmanned vehicle systems may also be used for telecommunications, traffic monitoring, security, surveillance and defense. As I eluded to in a previous presentation at the ECEDHA conference, computers are becoming smaller and faster at an exponential rate. This trend, coupled with the explosion of innovation in the field of Mechatronics, will lead to a world consisting of unmanned vehicle systems, everywhere. Most of you are already aware of the DARPA Grand Challenge. Just imagine, in a few short years, you will be able to hop into your personal helicopter, tell it that you wish to visit (fill in the blank), and voila, it takes you there effortlessly! Think it’s too farfetched? Here’s something that Amin, a colleague of mine, recently told me about: NASA’s Puffin. Check it out!

What is Quanser’s Unmanned Vehicle Systems Lab?

Quanser’s UVS Lab is a multi-purpose research and development workshop for autonomous unmanned aerial and ground vehicles. This turn-key solution comes equipped with QUARC (real-time control and multi agent mission development frameworks), Ground control station, Qball-X4, Embedded computer systems and inertial measurement units, Qbot unmanned ground vehicles and Localization system with cameras. Research applications include motion planning, sensor fusion, multi-agent navigation and formation control. The first component is the ground station computer which includes QUARC, Quanser’s real time control software. QUARC gives you the ability to use Matlab/Simulink and Real Time Workshop to develop all of your controller algorithms and then download and execute them remotely on your target vehicle. All of the control design, mission planning and inter-vehicle communication is seamlessly wirelessly downloaded onto the vehicle; there’s no need to write low level code. The Qball-X4 is Quanser’s indoor unmanned air vehicle and is outfitted with a Quanser made data acquisition card, called the Hi-Q. The Hi-Q is specifically designed to fly an unmanned air vehicle and is equipped with a range of sensors: gyroscopes, accelerometers, GPS, sonar and pressure sensors. To read more or to request a quote, click here.

Advantages of Indoor vs Outdoor?

Our founder, Dr. Jacob Apkarian, before he started Quanser more than 20 years ago, contributed significantly to the development of several key space projects, including control systems for the Canada Space Arm and components of the Space Station. To learn more about Quanser’s past experience with outdoor systems and the evolution of Quanser’s UVS platform, click here to read an interview with Jacob and Cameron, our lead UVS R&D Engineer. More recently, over the past 6 years, Jacob and Cameron have led our innovate R&D team on a relentless pursuit to engineer an open-architecture unmanned vehicle systems lab designed specifically for academic advancement. At the AIAA conference, I presented this Unmanned Vehicle Systems Lab alongside Amin, Cameron and Ali, three of our UVS specialists. Our team has extensive experience working with both outdoor and indoor labs. One of the major challenges with outdoor systems include having to deal with unpredictable weather conditions and unforeseen environmental challenges. On the other hand, results drawn from an indoor lab are far more controlled and thus more consistent. When working outdoors, safety also becomes a major risk. If your system goes out of control or falls out of range, it may land on a tree, a home, or even a person. The cage and net structure of the UVS ensures that the system is contained and that the researchers are safe, at all times. Not to mention, the indoor system is much more budget friendly and eliminates the need for transporting equipment and personal to far-off locations. Quanser’s indoor UVS is ready on your campus or research facility and is available for testing when you need it. Once you have tested your control theory on the indoor UVS platform, your team will be better positioned to move your ideas outdoor.

AIAA GNC 2010 delegates had a chance to try flying Quanser's Qball unmanned aerial vehicle.

If you have any further questions, be sure to write us an email at info@quanser.com.

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