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Autonomously Guiding Vehicles Through Orfices

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) industry has exploded over the recent decade, serving a broad range of applications for both the military and consumer markets. Growth within the industry is forecasted to continue, with revenue projections expected to grow at a rate 3.6% over the next five years. The military and defense markets are anticipated to continue investing substantial resources into UAV projects, focused on developing technologies for the next generation of UAVs that will make them more autonomous, stealthy, and able to operate in contested airspaces. Recent advancements in collision-avoidance systems now enable UAVs to autonomously avoid obstacles in their flight path.

The autonomous guidance of UAVs can be used to enhance defense-related operations involving intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Increased surveillance capabilities in emergency situations would aid law enforcement agencies, such as firefighters and police. Benefits of domestic use can include: disaster prevention, assessment, and management; environmental protection; infrastructure monitoring; agriculture surveying; and freight delivery.

The guidance model proposes a safe-passage cone-based model, developed in a relative velocity framework to enable a generic aerial robot execute a precision three-dimensional maneuver
through a narrow orifice approximated to elliptical shape. The model derived set of nonlinear guidance laws to guide the robot by incorporating continuous feedback from the elliptical
orifices, to pass through it, that may be fixed, moving, changing, and/or closing with time. These laws are derived using general kinematics-based analytical approach.

Each iteration of the control feedback loop can include identifying, using one or more local senses on board the vehicle, relative velocity vector of the vehicle with regard to the opening, and an orientation of the vehicle. Using the model framework, the local controller can be programmed to guide the vehicle to travel along the predetermined path so that it passes through the opening, as well as a vehicle that is capable of autonomously moving through an opening include one or more on board environmental sensors.

The acceleration generated by the guidance law is always applied normal to the velocity vector of the vehicle. This means that the guidance law does not require the vehicle to increase or decrease its current speed, and as a result the guidance law will not make the vehicle hit its transitional speed limits.

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Wichita State University

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Pending Patent

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