Micro Aerial Vehicles

The research of Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) in Multi-robot Systems group aims at deployment of autonomous flying robots in cluttered GPS-denied environments. The purpose of our endeavour is stabilization and control of unmanned MAVs using only onboard sensors for their state estimation and perception of their local neighbours. In particular, we are focussed on coordination and relative stabilization of compact groups of closely cooperating MAVs. The system for stabilization of MAVs is designed as a tool for verification of algorithms of swarm robotics and multi-robot systems.

 

 

The main research fields being tackled by  Multi-robot Systems group includes Model Predictive Control (MPC) of MAVs, MPC stabilization of teams of MAVs, multi-MAV systems, trajectory planning for MAVs, MAV motion planning, MAV obstacle avoidance, coordination of closely flying MAVs, bioinspired swarms of MAVs, and data fusion onboard of MAVs. The main applications of micro aerials vehicles and applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (applications of drones) solved within Multi-robot Systems group includes: cooperative surveillance, environment monitoring, inspection, reconnaissance, dynamic target tracking, 3D object modeling, aerial photography and filming, cooperative load transportation, and many more.  Our state-of-the-art in MAV research and description of developed methods can be found in papers chronologically listed below.

 

 

Contact:

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+420-22435-7634

 

Demos:

 

Real-time onboard swarming using the Boids model.

Precise MAV stabilization using model predictive control. In this experiment, the MAV is stabilized and control using a Model Predictive Control (MPC) technique optimizing control actions within receding control horizon of length of 2.2 seconds. The MPC is implemented on STM32F4 ARM micro-controller. The position is calculated from px4flow optical flow sensor. Therefore, only onboard sensors and computers are used for MAV position control and the trajectory following, and no external positioning system (such as Vicon or GPS) is required for the fully autonomous flying. This predestinates the system for deployment in real-world environment (both indoor and outdoor).

Simulation of swarm movement using the escape behavior method. Utilization of Fish School Search (FSS) based method for searching in 3D environment. The FSS based algorithm is modified for control a swarm of quadrocopters and it respects motion constraints and limits of the visual relative localization. In the experiments, MAVs cooperatively search for locations with lowest intensity of a signal transmitted from four transmitters distributed in the environment in different altitude. The intensity of the signal is simulated in the experiment based on known locations and transmission power of virtual transmitters. The experiment was realized in the GRASP Laboratory of University Of Pennsylvania within joint project of Czech Technical University in Prague and the University Of Pennsylvania.

Precise MAV control along precomputed trajectory. In this experiment, the MAV is controlled along precomputed trajectory using only onboard sensors and computational power. The position is estimated using px4flow optical flow camera. The MAV is controlled by onboard MPC controlled, which is implemented on STM32F4 ARM micro-controller. 

 For more demos with MAVs see our MRS demos page.  

 

MAV platforms and equipment:

 

  • MikroKopter L4-ME. The main experimental platform employed for verification of multi-robot experiments. A fleet of 6 MAVs equipped with relative visual localization is possible to use for experiments.
  • Student's MAVs. Several MAVs built from available components were assembled and equipped by the developed control system by Bc. and Msc. student of  MRS group to complement MikroKopters in multi-MAV experiments.
  • AR-drone. A lighter quadrotor of the Parrot company is employed for experiments in environments with possible occurrence of humans due to safety. In our system, the AR-drone is capable of landing on a UGV to form a heterogeneous team.
  • small, light-weight, low-cost, fast and reliable system of visual relative localization  of MAVs was designed. This device is available in different versions with different size and precision. 
  • A cognitive mobile helipad with an ability to change its shape and to support such the landing MAV and carrying the MAV by the robot was developed within Multi-robot Systems group.
  • A protecting net, which enables safe outdoor experiments, was built to fulfill regulations given by the civil Aviation Authority and to protect MAVs and objects in their proximity during outdoor swarm experiments.
 

Selected publications:

Journal articles:

  1. M Saska, V Vonasek, T Krajnik and L Preucil. Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous MAV–UGV Formations Localized by a ‘hawk-eye’-like Approach Under a Model Predictive Control Scheme. International Journal of Robotics Research 33(10):1393–1412, September 2014. PDF BibTeX

    @article{Saska14:218644,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Vonasek, V. and Krajnik, T. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous MAV\&\#8211;UGV Formations Localized by a \&\#8216;hawk-eye\&\#8217;-like Approach Under a Model Predictive Control Scheme}",
    	journal = "International Journal of Robotics Research",
    	year = 2014,
    	volume = 33,
    	number = 10,
    	pages = "1393--1412",
    	month = "September",
    	issn = "0278-3649",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/IJRR2014.pdf"
    }
    
  2. M Saska, T Krajnik, V Vonasek, Z Kasl, V Spurny and L Preucil. Fault-Tolerant Formation Driving Mechanism Designed for Heterogeneous MAVs-UGVs Groups. Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems 73(1-4):603–622, January 2014. URL PDF BibTeX

    @article{Saska14:212936,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Krajnik, T. and Vonasek, V. and Kasl, Z. and Spurny, V. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Fault-Tolerant Formation Driving Mechanism Designed for Heterogeneous MAVs-UGVs Groups}",
    	journal = "Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems",
    	year = 2014,
    	volume = 73,
    	number = "1-4",
    	pages = "603--622",
    	month = "January",
    	issn = "0921-0296",
    	language = "English",
    	url = "http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10846-013-9976-6",
    	pdf = "data/papers/JINT14_failure.pdf"
    }
    
  3. Tomas Krajnik, Matias Nitsche, Jan Faigl, Petr Vanek, Martin Saska, Libor Preucil, Tom Duckett and Marta Mejail. A Practical Multirobot Localization System. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems 76(3-4):539-562, 2014. PDF BibTeX

    @article{krajnik14JINT,
    	year = 2014,
    	journal = "Journal of Intelligent \& Robotic Systems",
    	volume = 76,
    	number = "3-4",
    	title = "A Practical Multirobot Localization System",
    	keywords = "Localization; Mobile robotics; Computer vision; Swarm robotics",
    	author = "Krajnik, Tomas and Nitsche, Matias and Faigl, Jan and Vanek, Petr and Saska, Martin and Preucil, Libor and Duckett, Tom and Mejail, Marta",
    	pages = "539-562",
    	pdf = "data/papers/Tom_circle_JINT_2014.pdf"
    }
    

WoS conference papers:

  1. M Saska, J Vakula and L Preucil. Swarms of Micro Aerial Vehicles Stabilized Under a Visual Relative Localization. In ICRA2014: Proceedings of 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. 2014, 3570–3575. URL PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska14:221382,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Vakula, J. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Swarms of Micro Aerial Vehicles Stabilized Under a Visual Relative Localization}",
    	booktitle = "{ICRA2014: Proceedings of 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation}",
    	publisher = "IEEE",
    	address = "Piscataway",
    	year = 2014,
    	pages = "3570--3575",
    	isbn = "978-1-4799-3684-7",
    	language = "English",
    	url = "http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=\&arnumber=6907374",
    	pdf = "data/papers/ICRA2014escape_short-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  2. M Saska, J Chudoba, L Preucil, J Thomas, G Loianno, A Tresnak, V Vonasek and V Kumar. Autonomous Deployment of Swarms of Micro-Aerial Vehicles in Cooperative Surveillance. In Proceedings of 2014 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS) 1. 2014, 584–595. URL PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska14:221385,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Chudoba, J. and Preucil, L. and Thomas, J. and Loianno, G. and Tresnak, A. and Vonasek, V. and Kumar, V.",
    	title = "{Autonomous Deployment of Swarms of Micro-Aerial Vehicles in Cooperative Surveillance}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of 2014 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS)}",
    	publisher = "IEEE Computer society",
    	address = "Danvers",
    	year = 2014,
    	volume = 1,
    	pages = "584--595",
    	isbn = "978-1-4799-2376-2",
    	language = "English",
    	url = "http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=\&arnumber=6842301",
    	pdf = "data/papers/icuas2014-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  3. M Saska, Z Kasl and L Preucil. Motion Planning and Control of Formations of Micro Aerial Vehicles. In Proceedings of The 19th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control. 2014, 1228–1233. PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska14:219889,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Kasl, Z. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Motion Planning and Control of Formations of Micro Aerial Vehicles}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of The 19th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control}",
    	publisher = "IFAC",
    	address = "Pretoria",
    	year = 2014,
    	pages = "1228--1233",
    	isbn = "978-3-902823-62-5",
    	issn = "1474-6670",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/ifac2014-crop-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  4. M Saska, J Langr and L Preucil. Plume Tracking by a Self-stabilized Group of Micro Aerial Vehicles. In Modelling and Simulation for Autonomous Systems 1. 2014, 44–55. PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska14:226686,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Langr, J. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Plume Tracking by a Self-stabilized Group of Micro Aerial Vehicles}",
    	booktitle = "{Modelling and Simulation for Autonomous Systems}",
    	publisher = "Springer",
    	address = "Cham",
    	year = 2014,
    	volume = 1,
    	pages = "44--55",
    	isbn = "978-3-319-13822-0",
    	issn = "0302-9743",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/MESAS2014Springer-crop-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  5. J Chudoba, M Saska, T Baca and L Preucil. Localization and stabilization of micro aerial vehicles based on visual features tracking. In Proceedings of 2014 2014 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS) 1. 2014, 611–616. URL PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Chudoba14:224905,
    	author = "Chudoba, J. and Saska, M. and Baca, T. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Localization and stabilization of micro aerial vehicles based on visual features tracking}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of 2014 2014 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS)}",
    	publisher = "IEEE Computer society",
    	address = "Danvers",
    	year = 2014,
    	volume = 1,
    	pages = "611--616",
    	isbn = "978-1-4799-2376-2",
    	language = "English",
    	url = "http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=\&arnumber=6842304",
    	pdf = "data/papers/JCH_ICUAS2014.pdf"
    }
    
  6. M Saska, T Krajnik, V Vonasek, P Vanek and L Preucil. Navigation, Localization and Stabilization of Formations of Unmanned Aerial and Ground Vehicles. In Proceedings of 2013 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 2013, 831–840. URL PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska13:206002,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Krajnik, T. and Vonasek, V. and Vanek, P. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Navigation, Localization and Stabilization of Formations of Unmanned Aerial and Ground Vehicles}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of 2013 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems}",
    	publisher = "Springer",
    	address = "New York",
    	year = 2013,
    	pages = "831--840",
    	isbn = "978-1-4799-0817-2",
    	language = "English",
    	url = "https://controls.papercept.net/conferences/scripts/abstract.pl?ConfID=53\&Number=70",
    	pdf = "data/papers/icuas2013aFINAL-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  7. J Faigl, T Krajnik, J Chudoba, L Preucil and M Saska. Low-Cost Embedded System for Relative Localization in Robotic Swarms. In ICRA2013: Proceedings of 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. 2013, 985–990. PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Faigl13:205381,
    	author = "Faigl, J. and Krajnik, T. and Chudoba, J. and Preucil, L. and Saska, M.",
    	title = "{Low-Cost Embedded System for Relative Localization in Robotic Swarms}",
    	booktitle = "{ICRA2013: Proceedings of 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation}",
    	publisher = "IEEE",
    	address = "Piscataway",
    	year = 2013,
    	pages = "985--990",
    	isbn = "978-1-4673-5641-1",
    	issn = "1050-4729",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/ICRA13cameraModule-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  8. M Saska, T Krajnik, J Faigl, V Vonasek and L Preucil. Low Cost MAV Platform AR-Drone in Experimental Verifications of Methods for Vision Based Autonomous Navigation. In Proceedings of 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 1. 2012, 4808–4809. PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska12:199007,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Krajnik, T. and Faigl, J. and Vonasek, V. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Low Cost MAV Platform AR-Drone in Experimental Verifications of Methods for Vision Based Autonomous Navigation}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems}",
    	publisher = "IEEE",
    	address = "Piscataway",
    	year = 2012,
    	volume = 1,
    	pages = "4808--4809",
    	isbn = "978-1-4673-1735-1",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/IROS2012_UAV_movie-joined.pdf"
    }
    
  9. M Saska, V Vonasek, T Krajnik and L Preucil. Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous UAVs-UGVs Teams Localized by a Hawk-Eye Approach. In Proceedings of 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 1. 2012, 2166–2171. PDF BibTeX

    @inproceedings{Saska12:198993,
    	author = "Saska, M. and Vonasek, V. and Krajnik, T. and Preucil, L.",
    	title = "{Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous UAVs-UGVs Teams Localized by a Hawk-Eye Approach}",
    	booktitle = "{Proceedings of 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems}",
    	publisher = "IEEE",
    	address = "Piscataway",
    	year = 2012,
    	volume = 1,
    	pages = "2166--2171",
    	isbn = "978-1-4673-1735-1",
    	language = "English",
    	pdf = "data/papers/IROS-helMPC-joined.pdf"
    }
    

 

Student works

  • Zdeněk Kasl - 3D formations of unmanned aerial vehicles (M.Sc. thesis supervised by Martin Saska)
  • Tomáš Báča - Control of relatively localized unmanned helicopters (Bc. thesis supervised by Martin Saska)
  • Vojtěch Spurný - Heterogeneous formations of ground vehicles and unmanned helicopters (Bc. thesis supervised by Martin Saska)
  • Pavel Zedník - Relative visual localization in swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles [pdf] (Bc. thesis supervised by Martin Saska)