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Energy-aware Aerial Swarm Search for Efficient Search and Rescue

Periodic Report Summary 1 - IUAVSJROBERTS (Energy-aware Aerial Swarm Search for Efficient Search and Rescue)

Project Objectives:
The details regarding the projects objectives and methodology have been outlined below:
• Objective 1: “Develop a suitable hovering platform that can carry the sensors required for the searching scenario”.
• Objective 2: “Develop a battery changing mechanism that can dock with the HiveShip”.
• Objective 3: “Develop the proposed HiveShip that interfaces with the hovering platform and uses the battery changing mechanism”.
• Objective 4: “Develop the controllers allowing for autonomous docking and battery change of one hovering agent”.
• Objective 5: “Develop the controllers that enable continuous operation of multiple hovering agents, for a simple swarm search behaviour”.

Work Performed:
The following is a description of the work performed since the beginning of the project, until its premature closing, i.e. over a period of 10 months.

The initial planning stage (lasting 3 months) was successfully completed. The candidate was quickly integrated into the company, and began researching a variety of applicable technologies and potential competing markets. An analysis was conducted to determine what available technologies could be utilized and applied to the project. Based on this initial research the candidate produced a development plan and began designing the hovering platform and hot-swappable battery system.

The results from this analysis provided a concrete recommendation for what type of platform and sensors would be suitable for the project. The outcome of this showed that a coaxial-contra-rotating propulsion system would provide the most payload capability (i.e. more sensing possibilities and less limited mechanical design), within the size constraints, and provide the high-maneuverability required for the alignment of a mechanical battery swapping system.

The second stage (envisioned for a duration of 21 months) began by developing the hovering platform, ensuring that the design would be compatible with the future automatic battery swapping system.

Many design considerations were taken into account, including; size, weight, controllability, optimal sensor locations, battery connectivity etc., to produce a Computer Aided Design (CAD) model of the complete robot before fabrication.

The custom developed hovering platform CAD is shown in Figure 1. The back view shows the hot-swappable battery compartment, which connects magnetically. There are four arms that hold four coaxial-contra-rotating propulsion systems capable of producing more than 8kg thrust. The arms and legs are detachable for easy transport. The omnidirectional communications antennas are shown at the back and sides of the robot. The machine vision camera and ultrasonic altitude sensor are located underneath the front nose of the robot. Figure 2 shows the real fabricated prototype including all these above-mentioned features.