Flying Fast and Low Among Obstacles

Sebastian Scherer, Sanjiv Singh, Lyle J. Chamberlain, and Srikanth Saripalli
Proceedings International Conference on Robotics and Automation, April, 2007.


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Abstract
Safe autonomous flight is essential for widespread acceptance of aircraft that must fly close to the ground.We have developed a method of collision avoidance that can be used in three dimensions in much the same way as autonomous ground vehicles that navigate over unexplored terrain. Safe navigation is accomplished by a combination of online environmental sensing, path planning and collision avoidance. Here we report results with an autonomous helicopter that operates at low elevations in uncharted environments some of which are densely populated with obstacles such as buildings, trees and wires. We have recently completed over 1000 successful runs in which the helicopter traveled between coarsely specified waypoints separated by hundreds of meters, at speeds up to 10 meters/sec at elevations of 5-10 meters above ground level. The helicopter safely avoids large objects like buildings and trees but also wires as thin as 6 mm. We believe this represents the first time an air vehicle has traveled this fast so close to obstacles. Here we focus on the collision avoidance method that learns to avoid obstacles by observing the performance of a human operator.

Keywords
Obstacle Avoidance, Collision Avoidance, UAV, helicopter, planning, sensing, system

Notes
Associated Center(s) / Consortia: Field Robotics Center

Text Reference
Sebastian Scherer, Sanjiv Singh, Lyle J. Chamberlain, and Srikanth Saripalli, "Flying Fast and Low Among Obstacles," Proceedings International Conference on Robotics and Automation, April, 2007.

BibTeX Reference
@inproceedings{Scherer_2007_5694,
   author = "Sebastian Scherer and Sanjiv Singh and Lyle J. Chamberlain and Srikanth Saripalli",
   title = "Flying Fast and Low Among Obstacles",
   booktitle = "Proceedings International Conference on Robotics and Automation",
   month = "April",
   year = "2007",
}