Optimal trajectory planning for a UAV glider using atmospheric thermals

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Title: Optimal trajectory planning for a UAV glider using atmospheric thermals
Author: Kagabo, Wilson
Abstract: An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Glider (UAV glider) uses atmospheric energy in its different forms to remain aloft for extended flight durations. This UAV glider's aim is to extract atmospheric thermal energy and use it to supplement its battery energy usage and increase the mission period. Given an infrared camera identified atmospheric thermal of known strength and location; current wind speed and direction; current battery level; altitude and location of the UAV glider; and estimating the expected altitude gain from the thermal, is it possible to make an energy efficient based motivation to fly to an atmospheric thermal so as to achieve UAV glider extended flight time? For this work, an infrared thermal camera aboard the UAV glider takes continuous forward-looking ground images of "hot spots". Through image processing a candidate atmospheric thermal strength and location is estimated. An Intelligent Decision Model incorporates this information with the current UAV glider status and weather conditions to provide an energy-based recommendation to modify the flight path of the UAV glider. Research, development, and simulation of the Intelligent Decision Model is the primary focus of this work. Three models are developed: (1) Battery Usage Model, (2) Intelligent Decision Model, and (3) Altitude Gain Model. The Battery Usage Model comes from the candidate flight trajectory, wind speed & direction and aircraft dynamic model. Intelligent Decision Model uses a fuzzy logic based approach. The Altitude Gain Model requires the strength and size of the thermal and is found a priori.
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/12688
Date: 2010-08

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