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Centralised control of unmanned aerial vehicles

Larkan, Jessica (2018) Centralised control of unmanned aerial vehicles. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This report presents the supporting research, methods, and outcome of an endeavour to develop a centralised control system using NI Labview for unmanned aerial vehicles developed by Bitcraze. It outlines the structure of the work, the product, and its capabilities and significance as a contribution to the body of knowledge surrounding drone technologies.

In order to present precedent for the project and potential avenues of work, the current literature detailing similar applications and systems are summarised. These sections highlight preferable potential design choices and constraints, which were considered before a method was devised. From this research, the approach chosen for the development of the controller is detailed. The final method chosen was that of a controller developed within NI Labview and radio transmission via the Crazyradio PA dongle. This would be used in place of Bitcraze’s controller, the Crazyflie PC Client. The positioning would utilise the TDoA algorithm for positioning in combination with the Loco Positioning System.

The background of the system topology is then given. This outlines all aspects of the system which warrant significant explanation before the underlying methodology for the controller program can be presented. One important aspect was that of creating drivers for the Crazyradio dongle. The procedure for multi-UAV communication is then described. This involved assigning each Crazyflie a unique address, so that multiplexing could be performed with a single radio transceiver. The setup of the LPS and the sequence reasoning is described, as this functionality was a large component within code design. The final two sequences chosen for drone travel are a “snake” and a “circle” formation, devised to avoid collision and crashes.

A high-level walkthrough of the Labview VI assists in understanding the process followed and the potential for development of the existing code in the future. The most noteworthy sections of the code are analysed and explained, with reference to the findings of the investigation for the original system.

The outcome of the project is presented and critically examined. This includes a summary of the capabilities of the final product, as well as an assessment of the performance. It was determined that the controller effectively satisfied the key objectives defined for the endeavour. Any aims which were not adequately fulfilled are discussed, and potential methods for their future development are detailed. The most significant unfulfilled objective was implementing functionality for logging data. Potential areas for exploration through future endeavours, such as autonomy and inter-UAV communication, would allow for more complex swarm behaviour to be explored.

The result of the project was a controller capable of communication with up to five UAVs. It was capable of flight and position control and replicated the functionality available within the original Bitcraze client. This product reinforces the worth of unmanned aerial vehicle technology in the advance of society and opens avenues for further pursuit of swarm technology applications.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Parlevliet, David
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