Student Research

Collision Avoidance System for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Despite their huge potential for replacing manned aircraft for a number of civilian and military applications, use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is confined to restricted airspace. Widespread use of these vehicles requires that these vehicles be integrated into the National Airspace System (NAS). However, Federal Aviation Administration is not yet ready to allow the integration of these vehicles into the NAS. One of the key requirements is that these vehicles have collision avoidance capabilities. UAV flight control systems must possess human equivalent level of safety to interpret potential collision threats and navigate around them. One of the goals of the current research at Cal Poly Pomona is the development and validation, in simulation and via flight tests, of a novel collision avoidance technique for small UAVs. The UAVs being used for this research are a Sig Kadet Senior and 8' Telemaster airplanes, which are equipped with autopilots and sensors for collision detection. The collision avoidance system works in three segments. The first segment determines the number of aircraft that are communicating with the subject aircraft within the detection zone. The second segment refines the list of other aircraft into a group which are within a pre-set distance and determines whether any of the aircraft is in collision course. The last segment of the algorithm plans alternate flight path in order to avoid the collision and returns to the original course once the collision is avoided. It draws a safety bubble around each of the airplanes from the list. The safety "bubble" has a size determined by how long it could take the airplane to reach any point at the edge of the shape. Software- and hardware-in-the-loop simulation results will be discussed. Future work will involve the implementation of the algorithm on the UAVs for flight test and experimental validation.

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