Outdoor flight testing of a pole inspection UAV incorporating high-speed vision

Sa, Inkyu, Hrabar, Stefan, & Corke, Peter (2014) Outdoor flight testing of a pole inspection UAV incorporating high-speed vision. Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, 105, pp. 107-121.

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We present a pole inspection system for outdoor environments comprising a high-speed camera on a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial platform. The pole inspection task requires a vehicle to fly close to a structure while maintaining a fixed stand-off distance from it. Typical GPS errors make GPS-based navigation unsuitable for this task however. When flying outdoors a vehicle is also affected by aerodynamics disturbances such as wind gusts, so the onboard controller must be robust to these disturbances in order to maintain the stand-off distance. Two problems must therefor be addressed: fast and accurate state estimation without GPS, and the design of a robust controller. We resolve these problems by a) performing visual + inertial relative state estimation and b) using a robust line tracker and a nested controller design. Our state estimation exploits high-speed camera images (100Hz) and 70Hz IMU data fused in an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF). We demonstrate results from outdoor experiments for pole-relative hovering, and pole circumnavigation where the operator provides only yaw commands. Lastly, we show results for image-based 3D reconstruction and texture mapping of a pole to demonstrate the usefulness for inspection tasks.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
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1 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 69212
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: UAV, Pole inspection, Vertical take-off, High-speed camera, Flight testing
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-07488-7_8
ISSN: 1610-7438
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland
Deposited On: 26 Mar 2014 22:10
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2014 03:34

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