Software simulations are usually not so complex to cover all situations and problems that can occur in real world environment. We are developing a framework that allows us to verify the functionality of algorithms that control a team of autonomous unmanned systems. These algorithms are designed for heterogenous multi-agent systems and their deployment on hardware robots allows us to further improve their stability and robustness.
Area of unmanned systems unifies most of the ATG research - from trajectory planning, collision resolution, multi-agent planning for tactical missions, optimal resource allocation, game-theoretical modeling of adversaries to critical infrastructure protection or simulation of multiple agents in mixed-reality environment. The research in ATG is dealing with both aerial and ground unmanned systems.
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are becoming increasingly popular for tasks such as surveillance or target tracking in various types of tactical missions. Traditionally, each UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in a mission is controlled by one or more operators. We have developed a collection of distributed algorithms that allow one operator to control a whole team of small UAVs. We are able to deploy the developed multi-agent control algorithms to a team of heterogenous hardware UAVs or to reduce costs and risks, we are capable of performing mixed reality simulations where the real and simulated UAVs can co-exist in one environment thus increasing the scalability and fidelity of our simulations.
Our agent-based system for robust decentralized multi-asset control consists of set of sub-systems performing various tasks during the UAS missions, unmanned vehicles and their sensory payload. These sub-systems are
We are experimenting with various UAV platforms
Fixed-wings are capable of relatively fast flight (up to 30 m/s) and have relatively large flight endurance (usually 30+ mins) and their are suitable for missions, where large areas need to be covered by limited number of assets in short time, e.g. wild-fires or floods monitoring or in the agriculture applications.
We have two fixed-wing Procerus UAVs with Kestrel autopilots at our disposal that we can control via Kestrel proprietary protocol.
VTOL (Vertical Take-off Landing) rotary UAVs have usually less endurance (usually up to 15 mins) and are slower than fixed-wings, however their large advantages are the possibility of loitering at one place, easier take-off procedure or unbounded minimal speed of flight or flight altitude. They are suitable for missions where low-altitude flights in environment with lots of obstacles are required or when precise tracking of slow moving targets in low-altitudes is needed.
We use 3DRobotics mutli-rotors (Quadcopter, Hexacopter or Y6 multi-copter) with APM2.6 autopilots that we interface via MAVLink protocol.
To increase the autonomy of UAVs and to maximize the amount of information from unmanned missions, the UAVs are equipped with various payload.
New features and algorithms need to pass several step process before full deployment on hardware UAVs. This helps us to reduce risk of accidents and costs of the experiments. These steps are
Multi-UAV control and mixed-reality simulation (youTube link)
Deployment on UAVs and Mission control in ISTAR scenarios (youTube link)
UAV control in Decision support system (youTube link)
Čáp, M., Novák, P., Selecký, M., Faigl, J. and Vokrinek J. (2013) Asynchronous Decentralized Prioritized Planning for Coordination in Multi-Robot System. IROS 2013. (link)
Selecký, M., Váňa, P., Rollo, M. and Meiser, T. (2013). Wind Corrections in Flight Path Planning,International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, Andon Topalov (Ed.), 2013, ISBN: 1729-8806, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/56455. (link);
Selecký, M., Štolba, M., Meiser, T., Čáp, M., Komenda, A., Rollo, M., Vokřínek, J. and Pěchouček, M. (2013, May). Deployment of multi-agent algorithms for tactical operations on UAV hardware. In Proceedings of the 2013 international conference on Autonomous agents and multi-agent systems (pp. 1407-1408). (link)
Jakob, M. , Pěchouček, M. , Čáp, M. , Novák, P. and Vaněk, O. (2012). Mixed-Reality Testbeds for Incremental Development of HART Applications, IEEE Intelligent Systems, v.27 n.2, p.19-25 (link)
Selecký, M. and Meiser, T. (2012) Integration of Autonomous UAVs into Multi-agent Simulation. Acta Polytechnica. 2012, vol. 52, no. 5/2012, p. 93-99. ISSN 1210-2709. (link)