Team Autonomous Robotics Competition Club (ARCC) from Penn State University
Team ARCC’s vehicle for the FastFind mission is a LiPo battery-powered hexrotor capable of autonomous waypoint following. The system’s main priority is to support First Responder teams conducting search and rescue missions (SAR). The main sensor is an integrated FLIR Thermal camera to assist in fast missing person identification in visually obscured scenarios. Real-time video transmission of the thermal camera feed is available to a ground operator. A trained object detection algorithm combines both RGB and thermal camera feeds to help identify potential missing persons during flights and geo-tagged images are saved for processing offboard in case further analysis is required. Quick battery swaps allow the vehicle to fly longer than the estimated 26 min endurance. The system is low weight and low cost suitable for a first responder team. It has a small footprint for easy transport and is capable of being deployed by a single user.
ARCC’s vehicle for the LifeLink mission is a LiPo battery-powered hexrotor capable of autonomous waypoint following. The system’s main priority is to support First Responder teams conducting missions where network connectivity is otherwise unavailable. An integrated AyrMesh hub is capable of transmitting internet protocol-based data to multiple first responder groups to disseminate voice communications, images, and video to each group. Each ground hub can be placed up to 2 miles away from the drone-mounted hub and provide up to a maximum bandwidth of about 10 Mbps to nearby devices. Quick battery swaps allow the vehicle to fly longer than the estimated 26 min endurance. The system is low weight and low cost suitable for a first responder team. It has a small footprint for easy transport and is capable of being deployed by a single user.
ARCC’s solution focuses on a scenario in which a public safety UAS is providing continuous broadband communications to first responders in a location without cellular coverage. Imagine a gradual spoof attack where fake GPS signals sent to the onboard GPS sensor cause the mobile station to drift far enough from its controlled hover position that communications become unavailable to the first responder team. The team’s countermeasure to this attack is to add a Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) position data sensor to compare with GPS data for protection against GPS degradation or attacks on small, low cost UAS platforms. They modified the open-source PX4 flight control firmware to include the difference in GPS and VIO position data in the GPS quality checks. The autopilot switches to the backup position sensor when the GPS local position drifts far from the VIO sensor.
Vitor Valente is a Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. He earned both his B.S. degree in Control and Automation Engineering and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. His research interests include reconfigurable UAVs and adaptive control architectures. IFRS/Brazil, where he is currently a professor and has taught courses in Robotics and Pneumatics, is supporting his Ph.D. studies with the Penn State UAS Research Lab (PURL). He is a FAA certified remote pilot.
Vidullan Surendran is a Ph.D. candidate in Aerospace Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University focusing on intent recognition in Human-Robot teams. He has been an instructor for senior level courses on Advanced Programming Concepts in C++ and Software Engineering Techniques at the Penn State Aerospace Engineering department. As one of the founding members of ARCC, he has participated in several vehicle platforms working on vehicle AI/decision making, software integration, electrical subsystem design and structural design.
Rachel Axten is a NASA Pathways Intern and Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering at the Penn State UAS Research Lab (PURL). Her research interests include vehicle dynamics and fault-tolerant control. She is a FAA certified remote pilot and serves as the team's safety pilot.
Venkatakrishnan Iyer is a Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. He has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Mumbai University and a M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Penn State. His industry experience spans more than eight years, working at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as a Systems Integration Designer for Helicopters. His current research involves dynamics and modeling of helicopters with development of adaptive control architectures and control allocation schemes.