Aircraft Carrier Is Moving Target For Autonomous Quadcopter

[Karl-Engelbert Wenzel] developed a UAV capable of taking off and landing on a moving platform autonomously. The platform operates aircraft-carrier-style by driving around the room in circles. The quadcopter tracks a grid of IR LEDs at the front of the landing deck by using the IR camera from a Wii remote. The best part is that the flight controls and processing are all done by the copter’s onboard ATmega644 processor, not requiring a connection to a PC. The landings are quite accurate, achieving a maximum error of less than 40 centimeters. In the video after the break you can see the first landing is slightly off the mark but the next two are dead on target.

So build yourself a mobile platform and pair it up with your newly finished quadcopter to replicate this delightful hack.


26 thoughts on “Aircraft Carrier Is Moving Target For Autonomous Quadcopter

  1. hell yeah. that is very awesome. easy docking station idea: one of those wireless charging pads. put the battery or at least the connections on the bottom and the other half paint like the landing strip. viola. :)

  2. Impressive work! I bet the military is interested in stuff like this.

    Combine this with gps so one can track the other.
    If the UAV is low on energy the carrier will come to it’s rescue and if the carrier is low the UAV will try to approach instead.

    It makes more noise than i expected. Replace the blades with fans.

  3. Very, very cool! I like that! I was thinking of making a similar thing in fact.

    One thing I would say is that the UAV seemed a little ‘wobbly’ for my likings. Perhaps the PID gains could be tuned better, but I’m sure you could get better performance from that thing.

    But nonetheless, very fun.

  4. hehe.

    I was watching terminator salvation this morning.

    Love the project though. Agreed about not being able to land an RC heli on target!

    With GPS it would be great, autonomous landing from a few miles away. IR when it got in range.


  5. The distances in the movie seem fishy to me, too. And the room is definitely not *that* huge. We tested the robots for RoboCup there, back when the team was still active. Nice to see that the robots are getting re-used as aircraft-carriers :-)

  6. Hi,
    I’m the developer.

    First of all I want to thank you for all your comments :)
    Just to clarify some issues:
    The landing place is 60cm away from the pattern, thats why it says 60cm distance.
    During landing, the max. error was in fact around 10cm…
    The maximum of 40cm error is during tracking, so it does not affect the landing. But I have to concede that not all of the experiments succeeded. 90% success rate.
    You’re right, the PID controllers could be more precisely, but it was hard to find parameters, which allow the errors, forced by the platform and are precisely the same time…

  7. I have wheeled ROV that would benefit from an “eye in the sky” to help with navigation and general overall killerness…ness.

    That’s simply outstanding work right there.

    yes charger on the dock would rule. -inductive perhaps?

  8. Using an inducting charger like the touchstone kit is a great idea. But the LiPo batteries usually are charged with a balancer, so I thought of attaching pads below each rotor to charge every single cell for its own…

  9. This would be sweet with those desert autonomous races. Think of it, vehicle leaves base, finds safe spot and pauses, heli takes off, vehicle proceeds, heli maps out future terrain, comes back, vehicle pauses, heli lands, vehicle gets mapped data, possibly quicker?

  10. we used a system similar to this in the navy, but using radio signals instead of lights. the aircraft side was called acls (automated carrier landing system), and the shipboard component was called the spin 41 (spn-41a). the radio signal was interpreted as a + shaped display with lights to tell the pilot to ascend/descend/bear left or right, and “on-the-ball.”

  11. A derivative control system is required to enable smooth tracking and landing. Sense you utilized an aircraft carrier then additional axis are needed such as Z and yaw. No problem if the derivative control system is adjusted properly. I suggest making the speed of the propellers inversely proportional to the distance from the deck taking into consideration stall factors and maneuverability of the air craft.

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