Drone technology aims for long-endurance missions
UAVs, more commonly known as drones, are increasingly being used in areas such as defence, agriculture and surveillance, potentially offering applications in many other exciting areas as well. The EU-funded MUAC-IREN (Multi-UAV cooperation international research exchange network) project brought together key Australian and European institutions in UAV technologies to research and advance the advent of long-endurance multi-UAV applications. Specifically, the consortium saw Spain’s Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development and the University of Seville join forces with the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt and the Australian Center for Field Robotics. The team collaborated on different UAV fronts, such as control algorithms to extend UAVs using wind energy and to facilitate all-weather UAV operations by avoiding climate-led threats and addressing adverse weather. Specifically, this included estimation and planning techniques to avoid weather hazards, as well as control techniques to mitigate the effect of weather conditions. It also involved the development of fault-adaptive reconfiguration of the trajectories for long-endurance applications. Collaboration among the consortium members provided a healthy environment for testing the algorithms and jointly publishing research results. Technical progress was made on researching enhanced autonomous soaring techniques, development of powerful control technologies for fixed- and rotary-wing UAVs, and new systems for longer missions that require docking and recharging. With respect to multi-vehicle control and long-endurance fixed-wing UAVs, the project team successfully developed multi-vehicle control technology with multi-sensor state estimation to enhance docking and refuelling. Novel models for rotary wind UAVs also emerged from MUAC-IREN, as did a new camera-based navigation system. The new synergies have opened up strong partnerships in the field and have yielded outcomes that will contribute to upgrading UAVs. From security monitoring and wildfire management to emergency drops in disaster areas, society stands to benefit from the successful research in this important field.
Drone, unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, MUAC-IREN, control algorithms