Autonomous Soaring Techniques for Application to Small Scale Unmanned Gliders
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSoaring is an action that can be readily seen in nature. Birds have long been known to stay aloft by using the naturally occurring lift sources generated in the environment. These sources, such as thermals and terrain fluctuations, create a region of up-drafting air which affords a natural increase in the lift produced by wings. Utilizing these environmental lift sources has great technical advantage. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are limited in range only by their power source; whether that may be battery or fuel, the UAV will eventually need to land to recharge its energy source. Due to limited payload constraints, UAVs often are implemented in short-range and low-endurance missions. These constraints can be relaxed significantly if the UAV is capable of autonomously extracting this energy from the environment. Accomplishing this task requires advanced control algorithms which are capable of executing decision making strategies to cope with the uncertain variability of the environment. This project will address the need for this system as well as experimentally show its application via computer aided simulation and radio controlled model flight testing using an autopilot on board the aircraft.
Degree ProgramHonors College