The AutoSOAR autonomous soaring aircraft, part 1: Autonomy algorithms

Nathan T. Depenbusch, John J. Bird, Jack W. Langelaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autonomous soaring has the potential to greatly improve both the range and endurance of small robotic aircraft. This paper describes an autonomous soaring system that generates a dynamic map of lift sources (thermals) in the environment and uses this map for online flight planning and decision making. Components of the autonomy algorithm include thermal mapping, explore/exploit decision making, navigation, optimal airspeed computation, thermal centering control, and energy state estimation. A finite state machine manages the aircraft behavior during flight and determines when changing behavior is appropriate. A complete system to enable autonomous soaring is described with special attention paid to practical considerations encountered during flight testing. A companion paper describes the hardware implementation of this system and the results of a flight test campaign conducted at Aberdeen Proving Ground in September 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-889
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Field Robotics
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications

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