1 minute flight using vision system

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What we have been up to lately

As you might have seen we have made some huge progress lately. Our Quadrocopters might not yet be fully stable but we are getting closer and closer at least. Lately a lot of improvements have been made in all areas of the design of the Quadrocopter. Here are some of the major things that we have accomplished lately:

Mechanics:

  • Our custom-made frame made out of fiberglass and carbon fiber is proving to be really sturdy. We initially had some some problems with cracks forming in the carbon fiber due to crashes during test flights but these problems went away when we stopped drilling mounting holes in it and used another approach for fastening components to the carbon fiber.
  • An upgrade has been made to the landing gear. The first version of the landing gear was made in fiberglass but this proved to be a bit too stiff so we used the KISS-approach (Keep it simple, stupid!) and decided to use cable ties reinforced with heat-shrinking tube instead. These are mount on the end points of each arm and works as springs/dampers during take off/crashing.
  • All of the PCBs are now attached securely to the base plate of the Quadrocopter and the camera is also mounted. All that is needed now is to integrate the vision system code into the main program running on the Raspberry Pi!

Electronics:

  • A custom PCB for the Arduino Mega2560 has been made for more modular connection of motors and other components to the Arduino.
  • The collision avoidance system is under development and initial tests seems promising.
  • The stabilization algorithm using the Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU) is under development and testing on the Quadrocopter is taking place as I write this. Some Youtube clips of it in acting can be found below.
  • New motors have arrived and been mounted onto the Quadrocopter. These motor are high-quality motors from Tiger Motors.
  • A RPM-measuring system for the motors has been made using reflectance sensors and some markings on the motors. This system can correctly measure the RPM of the up to 10.000 RPM!
  • Custom LED-PCBs have been made. These PCBs are to be mounted on the Quadrocopters and then be used for the vision algorithm.

Software:

  • The Bluetooth Network software is being developed. This system will be used on the Quadrocopters for communication between them and for remote control of the swarm.
  • The vision system is taking form. Right now we are testing it on ground based robots in order to verify the functionality and to work all the bugs out before we move it to the Quadrocopters.
  • A Bluetooth control function has been created in order to fly the Quadrocopters remotely using a joystick. This is used for testing of the stabilization algorithm.
  • A Bluetooth programmer for the Arduino has been developed for easier reprogramming of it.
  • The simulator is up and running. Most of the things that we intend to do with the Quadrocopters are implemented in it.
  • More Raspberry Pi’s have arrived! We recently got our hands on some of the new boards with 512 Mb of RAM.

A picture of the current setup of one of our Quadrocopters. Notice the broken propeller to the left. The poor sod got hurt during a test

These are just some of the things that we have accomplished during the last few weeks. In other news, we are still looking for sponsors/cooperation possibilities with companies. So if you are interested in helping us achieve our goals don’t hesitate to contact us. Please refer to the contact page for more information. That is all we got to tell you for now but stay tuned, more information will be posted soon!

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9 Second Flight with Altitude Control

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Quadrocopter flight with bluetooth and stabilization

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Seven seconds in the air

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A short video of the progress so far

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Change of Platforms

After a month struggling with the configuration of the Pandaboard ES we have realized that the work is too time consuming due to all the problems that are arising. We have decided to change platform to Rasberry Pi. This platform is slower but it is already configured and it is easy to install openCV. This change makes the optimization of the vision code much more urgent.

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Embedded Conference

This Tuesday and Wednesday a group from Mälardalens University was exhibiting at the Embedded Conference Scandinavia in Stockholm. As a part of this exhibit we got to show our project together with the previous Robotics project, Project Vasa, which 12 other students worked on for 20 weeks last year. Since we had only worked for five weeks at the time we only had a poster and a small demo presentation to show. Due to this it felt good to have a the finished Vasa project next to us so that the company representatives could see how high our ambitions are. We met plenty of interesting people and companies, several of which we hope to keep in contact with.

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A glimpse of us working…

Here is some pictures while we are working hard in the lab.

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With Farnell Visiting

By a contact at the university we arranged a meeting with the international company Farnell, a company which provides a great supply of electrical components and other related wares. Since electrical components and modules are of great interest to us we consider a possible cooperation with the company an important step forward.

We presented our project with our goals and what we need to accomplish them to the regional sales manager and her colleague. In return they presented us with what they had to offer. We look forward to hearing from them and appreciate any future collaboration with Farnell.

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