SUAAVE: Sensing Unmanned Autonomous Aerial VEhicles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: Sch of Computing & Information Eng

Abstract

The SUAAVE consortium is an interdisciplinary group in the fields of computer science and engineering. Its focus is on the creation and control of swarms of helicopter UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that operate autonomously (i.e not under the direct realtime control of a human), that collaborate to sense the environment, and that report their findings to a base station on the ground.Such clouds (or swarms or flocks) of helicopters have a wide variety of applications in both civil and military domains. Consider, for example, an emergency scenarion in which an individual is lost in a remote area. A cloud of cheap, autonomous, portable helicopter UAVs is rapidly deployed by search and rescue services. The UAVs are equipped with sensor devices (including heat sensitive cameras and standard video), wireless radio communication capabilities and GPS. The UAVs are tasked to search particular areas that may be distant or inaccessible and, from that point are fully autonomous - they organise themselves into the best configuration for searching, they reconfigure if UAVs are lost or damaged, they consult on the probability of a potential target being that actually sought, and they report their findings to a ground controller. At a given height, the UAVs may be out of radio range of base, and they move not only to sense the environment, but also to return interesting data to base. The same UAVs might also be used to bridge communications between ground search teams. A wide variety of other applications exist for a cloud of rapidly deployable, highly survivable UAVs, including, for example, pollution monitoring; chemical/biological/radiological weapons plume monitoring; disaster recovery - e.g. (flood) damage assessment; sniper location; communication bridging in ad hoc situations; and overflight of sensor fields for the purposes of collecting data. The novelty of these mobile sensor systems is that their movement is controlled by fully autonomous tasking algorithms with two important objectives: first, to increase sensing coverage to rapidly identify targets; and, second, to maintain network connectivity to enable real-time communication between UAVs and ground-based crews. The project has four main scientific themes: (i) wireless networking as applied in a controllable free-space transmission environment with three free directions in which UAVs can move; (ii) control theory as applied to aerial vehicles, with the intention of creating truly autonomous agents that can be tasked but do not need a man-in-the-loop control in real time to operate and communicate; (iii) artificial intelligence and optimisation theory as applied to a real search problem; (iv) data fusion from multiple, possibly heterogeneous airborne sensors as applied to construct and present accurate information to situation commanders. The SUAAVE project will adopt a practical engineering approach, building real prototypes in conjunction with an impressive list of external partners, including a government agency, the field's industry leaders, and two international collaborators.

Publications

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Luo C (2015) Hybrid Demodulate-Forward Relay Protocol for Two-Way Relay Channels in IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications

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Luo C (2013) UAV Position Estimation and Collision Avoidance Using the Extended Kalman Filter in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology

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Patterson T (2014) Timely autonomous identification of UAV safe landing zones in Image and Vision Computing

 
Description The SUAAVE consortium is an interdisciplinary group in the fields of computer science and engineering. The consortium's
focus is to investigate and elucidate the principles underlying the control of clouds of networked resource-limited unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) acting as sensor platforms, that are targeted towards achieving a global objective in an efficient
manner. The results of this must be communicated to a ground controller.
The focus of SUAAVE lies in the creation and control of swarms of helicopter UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that are
individually autonomous (i.e not under the direct realtime control of a human) but that collaboratively self-organise: to sense
the environment in the most efficient way possible; to respond to node failures; and to report their findings to a base station on the ground.
Such clouds (or swarms or flocks) of helicopters have a wide variety of applications in both civil and military domains since
they are rapidly deployable and highly survivable. In effect there are three separate capabilities for use in addressing
application-specific problems: (i) ground sensing of various types; (ii) atmospheric sampling; and (iii) the ability to bridge
communications, all within a rapidly deployable, survivable, hands-off package. Examples of these include: search and
rescue; pollution monitoring; chemical/biological/radiological weapons plume monitoring; disaster recovery - e.g. (flood)
damage assessment; sniper location; communication bridging in ad hoc situations; and overflight of sensor fields for the
purposes of collecting data.
The novelty of these mobile sensor systems is that their movement is controlled by fully autonomous tasking algorithms
with two important objectives: first, to increase sensing coverage to rapidly identify targets; and, second, to maintain
network connectivity to enable real-time communication between UAVs and ground-based crews. The project has four
main scientific themes: (i) wireless networking as applied in a controllable free-space transmission environment with three
free directions in which UAVs can move; (ii) control theory as applied to aerial vehicles, with the intention of creating truly
autonomous agents that can be tasked but do not need a man-in-the-loop control in real time to operate and communicate;
(iii) artificial intelligence and optimisation theory as applied to a real search problem; (iv) data fusion from multiple, possibly
heterogeneous airborne sensors as applied to construct and present accurate information to situation commanders.
Exploitation Route We have been successful in taking forward two new proposals in the areas of:-

1. UAVs for Flood Monitoring as part of a DE Call managed by Imperial College London. UWS and Ulster are collaborating with Oxford and UCL and also have involvement with BT Research Labs. BT are interested in our work as it support how BT Engineers respond to key problems areas affected by floods to restore communications infrastructure

2. We are developing a proposal with FCO and Regional Police Agencies for "Very First Responders in the Presence of major Disaster Events. This falls within the EPSRC "Making Sense from Data" Call that is currently inviting Expressions of Interest. We are leveraging our work with the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC) to bring forward a proposal with partners Ulster, Cambridge, UCL and Oxford.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment,Security and Diplomacy,Transport,Other

URL https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/projects/SUAAVE/
 
Description Our EPSRC WINES III SUAAVE Project formed part of a Strategic Review of the WINES Programme:- http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/pubs/wired-and-wireless-intelligent-networked-systems-strategy-and-impact-workshop-report/ Due to Safety Concerns in the use and deployment of UAV Platforms we developed Standard Operating Procedures that were shared with the Home Office and also use to satisfy UK CAA.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Environment,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description British Council UK-India Education Research Initiative 2005-2016
Amount £51,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 06/2016