2 May 2007 Deployable reconnaissance from a VTOL UAS in urban environments
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Reconnaissance collection in unknown or hostile environments can be a dangerous and life threatening task. To reduce this risk, the Unmanned Systems Group at Virginia Tech has produced a fully autonomous reconnaissance system able to provide live video reconnaissance from outside and inside unknown structures. This system consists of an autonomous helicopter which launches a small reconnaissance pod inside a building and an operator control unit (OCU) on a ground station. The helicopter is a modified Bergen Industrial Twin using a Rotomotion flight controller and can fly missions of up to one half hour. The mission planning OCU can control the helicopter remotely through teleoperation or fully autonomously by GPS waypoints. A forward facing camera and template matching aid in navigation by identifying the target building. Once the target structure is identified, vision algorithms will center the UAS adjacent to open windows or doorways. Tunable parameters in the vision algorithm account for varying launch distances and opening sizes. Launch of the reconnaissance pod may be initiated remotely through a human in the loop or autonomously. Compressed air propels the half pound stationary pod or the larger mobile pod into the open portals. Once inside the building, the reconnaissance pod will then transmit live video back to the helicopter. The helicopter acts as a repeater node for increased video range and simplification of communication back to the ground station.
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Shane Barnett, John Bird, Andrew Culhane, Adam Sharkasi, Charles Reinholtz, "Deployable reconnaissance from a VTOL UAS in urban environments", Proc. SPIE 6561, Unmanned Systems Technology IX, 65611E (2 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.718330; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.718330

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