Autonomous landing at unprepared sites by a full-scale helicopter

Sebastian Scherer, Lyle J. Chamberlain, and Sanjiv Singh
Robotics and Autonomous Systems, , October, 2012


Download
  • Adobe portable document format (pdf) (10MB)
Copyright notice: This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

Abstract
Helicopters are valuable since they can land at unprepared sites; however, current unmanned helicopters are unable to select or validate landing zones (LZs) and approach paths. For operation in unknown terrain it is necessary to assess the safety of a LZ. In this paper, we describe a lidar-based perception system that enables a full-scale autonomous helicopter to identify and land in previously unmapped terrain with no human input. We describe the problem, real-time algorithms, perception hardware, and results. Our approach has extended the state of the art in terrain assessment by incorporating not only plane fitting, but by also considering factors such as terrain/skid interaction, rotor and tail clearance, wind direction, clear approach/abort paths, and ground paths. In results from urban and natural environments we were able to successfully classify LZs from point cloud maps. We also present results from 8 successful landing experiments with varying ground clutter and approach directions. The helicopter selected its own landing site, approaches, and then proceeds to land. To our knowledge, these experiments were the first demonstration of a full-scale autonomous helicopter that selected its own landing zones and landed.

Keywords
UAV, Rotorcraft, 3D perception, Lidar, Landing zone selection

Notes
Associated Project(s): Low-Flying Air Vehicles
Note: The authorative version of this article is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921889012001509

Text Reference
Sebastian Scherer, Lyle J. Chamberlain, and Sanjiv Singh, "Autonomous landing at unprepared sites by a full-scale helicopter," Robotics and Autonomous Systems, , October, 2012

BibTeX Reference
@article{Scherer_2012_7302,
   author = "Sebastian Scherer and Lyle J. Chamberlain and Sanjiv Singh",
   editor = "R. Dillman",
   title = "Autonomous landing at unprepared sites by a full-scale helicopter",
   journal = "Robotics and Autonomous Systems",
   publisher = "Elsevier",
   month = "October",
   year = "2012",
   Notes = "The authorative version of this article is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921889012001509"
}