|Surveyor Robotics Journal|
Fri, 14 May 2010
Fun with planes, parafoils and robots
Snowflake is a collaboration between Naval Postgraduate School and University of Alabama in Huntsville to develop single and multiple autonomously guided parafoils. The project, described in detail here, uses an Arcturus T-20 UAV to launch the parafoils and a Surveyor SVS-based robot with Inertia Labs Renegade base to autonomously locate the parafoils after landing.
We had the opportunity last week to view Snowflake field tests at CIRPAS McMillan Airfield. The Arcturus launched a pair of Snowflake parafoils from 3500-ft, and upon touchdown, the Snowflake controller transmitted GPS coordinates that were relayed to the robot. The robot then autonomously moved to the transmitted coordinates using a script written in picoC. We witnessed 3 successful UAV launch and robot retrieval cycles. Future tests will include drop of a smaller version of the Surveyor robot by parafoil.
Arcturus ready to launch. Note underwing pod carrying the parafoil.
Parafoil approaching the ground
Robot receives parafoil GPS coordinates
Robot driving through the grass to reach parafoil
Arcturus approaching touchdown