The Advanced UAV Team is registered to compete in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Seafarer Chapter’s 13th Annual Student Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS) Competition, scheduled to take place June 17th-21st. When asked what the most difficult task was prospected to be, team captain Thomas Ryan answered that equipping and programming the UAV to accomplish all of the flight missions in the competition certainly would be, which is the grand objective of this team’s project. They have already installed an auto pilot into the UAV and added airspeed sensors on the tip of the wings and have had two test flights; one occurred at the end of January and another at the beginning of February, both of which were very successful. To ensure safe landing in the snow during the first flight, the team built skis for their aircraft.
During the second test flight, the team tested features of the UAV’s autopilot system. Team member Antonio Martinez has been using the Ardupilot Mission Planner software to communicate with the receiver on the UAV. Ryan commented that they have been taking off and landing the plane with a controller, but once the UAV is in the air, he switches the setting on the remote to an automated mode and everything else that the UAV does is completely laissez-faire. Eventually, Ryan says, the UAV will be able to take off and land on its own. In this test flight, the UAV successfully flew to designated GPS coordinate points and circled the location in a fixed given radius.
“It was really cool. I took my hands off the control, and [the UAV] flew to the GPS location and started flying in circles around it.” – Thomas Ryan
In the upcoming months, the team’s goal is to take data from a camera (that will be attached to the plane) and locate GPS points through advanced image processing. By doing so, the team should learn where the plane is and where the plane is heading in real time. Additionally, the team will design a complex algorithms process that will allow the UAV to identify ground targets and drop payloads upon detection.
Stay tuned for more updates!