Autonomous UAV precision item pickup
Papayanopoulos, John Francis
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In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become increasingly useful in a wide range of applications such as surveying, package delivery, and recreation. An emerging research area is that of autonomous precision landing for package pickup and return to base procedures. The motivation of this project is to develop a modular UAV dock and attachment system capable of payload attachment and autonomous return to base procedures. This modular design must also support the use of multiple attachment points for cooperative package pickup. This project develops technologies and techniques to allow a single rotary winged unmanned aerial vehicle to locate and retrieve a payload on the ground. The contributions of this thesis include an autonomous control algorithm for precision docking and a mechanical design of a docking mechanism. The control algorithm implemented uses a vision based infrared beacon-camera pair for terminal guidance feedback. Both the control algorithm and prototype docking mechanism are implemented using a quadrotor platform. Included is a detailed description of the control algorithm, mechanical design of the docking mechanism, prototype implementation, and flight test results. The results of this work show the suggested methods are reliable and may be useful in a variety of applications in which UAVs retrieve supplies or personnel for subsequent transport.