The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 2022 Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Competition was held April 9 at the Purdue UAS Research and Test (PURT) facility at Purdue Airport.
During the Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Competition, a UAV tracks a ground rover while trapped inside a tunnel. (Credit: Vincent Walter)
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 2022 On April 9, the autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) competition was held. at the Purdue UAS Research and Test Facility (PURT) at Purdue Airport.
The competition was supported through a $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant, of which Purdue received half. Yung-Hsiang Lu, a professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the PI for the NSF project, “Research infrastructure for real-time computer vision and decision making via mobile robots.” Co-PIs from Purdue are: Shreyas Sundaram, Marie Gordon Associate Professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Shaoshuai Mou, Associate Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Wei Zakharov, assistant professor, School of Libraries and Information Studies; James Goppert, managing director of PURT and lecturer at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and John Mott, associate professor and head of the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology.
“This is the first competition of a project that builds a research infrastructure for autonomous robots, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation,” Lu said.
Goppert, who spent countless hours preparing for the event, closely monitored the progress of the competing teams throughout the day and kept spectators informed of drone movements on the field.
“This is the first time that PURT has organized an international competition for autonomous UAVs,” said Goppert. “We plan to organize several more competitions with increasing difficulty levels in the coming years.”
During the day’s competition, a UAV followed a rover on the ground autonomously without a human operator. The UAV had to avoid obstacles, including flying over a tunnel when the rover entered it. The competition included two stages. In the first, seven teams from China, Greece, India, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Korea and the United States submitted their solutions to be evaluated in a simulator. Teams from Russia, Italy and Poland were selected to enter the second phase when the solutions were loaded onto the PX4 UAV and launched inside the 20,000 square meter PURT, which houses the world’s largest indoor motion capture facility with the capability to measure UAS locations with millimeter accuracy.
“This competition is special because we have integrated a virtual environment in the simulator and the physical environment in PURT,” said Sundaram.
The IEEE competition was the first time PURT hosted an international autonomous UAV competition. (Credit: Vincent Walter)
Zakharov agreed: “This competition will provide a benchmark for researchers to understand the potential and limitations of today’s technologies.”
The event was aided by the volunteer efforts of 34 undergraduate and four graduate students in the College of Engineering, many of them part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Vertical Integrated Projects (VIP) program – Unmanned Aerial System (AFRL- UAS).
“They contributed by designing the competition, creating the simulator, writing the software that controls the rover and using the PURT motion capture system to calculate the results,” said Carla Zoltowski, director of VIP, a multidisciplinary research program for undergraduate students with student mentors. graduates.
The undergraduate students “made a reference solution for all the teams to study,” said Qiang Qiu, assistant professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and advisor to the VIP undergraduate research team.
Mott explained why Purdue was a natural choice to host the competition.
“Purdue University is uniquely equipped for autonomous aircraft research, including an airport, the first quiet hypersonic wind tunnel at a university and a research park, including industry leaders such as Rolls-Royce and Saab,” he said. .
Quetzalcoatlus of the VA Trapeznikov Institute of Control Sciences in Russia was the winning team. The solution team members successfully followed the ground rover while avoiding obstacles and tracked the rover while it was trapped inside the tunnel.
“It is very exciting to see that our solution worked well in a difficult situation with many obstacles and a tunnel,” said Alexander Abdulov, leader of Quetzalcoatlus.
The other two finalists were the BioRobotics-SSSA team from the BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy and the High Flyers team from the Silesian University of Technology Gliwice in Poland.
Alex Rogers shows one of the competing autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles navigating the course inside the Purdue UAS Research and Test (PURT) facility at Purdue Airport. Also pictured (L-R) are: Long Nguyen, Wei Zakharov, Hunter Haglid, Ayden Kocher and James Goppert. The students are part of the Air Force Research Laboratory – Unmanned Aerial System Vertically Integrated Projects Program team. (Credit: Vincent Walter)
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