Providence Demonstrator #2
UAV system controlled via the cellular network
Continuation project of Providence Demonstrator (http://www.surtsey.org/projects/providence-2/). The aim of the project is to build a new improved plane model using the experience gained from the previous project. The most significant changes have been made to the model. A new airframe is used that has a wider wing chord and a slightly shorter wingspan. Moreover, the model is made from EPP foam which is a flexible foam material. Hopefully this material will help in mitigating damage on ground impact.
Some functionalities have been removed in order to decrease the weight of the plane. These include the parachute, camera and waterproofing. However, these functions are to be reinstated when the system shows promising results. A more powerful DC motor has been installed as well, which will help in strong headwind and allows for an easier launch.
Besides the changes to the plane model, the controller tuning has been improved to increase robustness in harsh weather conditions. In simulations the plane is able to handle wind speeds up to 25 knots (approximately 13 m/s), these wind conditions has not yet been tested in the real plane model.
Currently, the system has been tested in very calm weather conditions. The plane performs well, it is stable and follows the reference path with high precision. Videos from the flight are found here:
During flight the system shows a healthy connection between the plane and ground control station. Hence, new directions can be given at any time through the mobile network and the response is immediate.
The project is still ongoing and some changes and additions are in progress. Firstly, the plane is to be tested in higher wind speeds to check the operating range. Also, a new autopilot is considered instead of the Pixhawk. This is mostly due to the ability to connect the autopilot directly to the internet without the need for a companion computer, that is currently used. Moreover, a camera solution is in progress. The aim is to implement a small camera with a custom gimbal mount in order to counteract the movement of the plane. Any further updates in the project will be posted here.
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