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Eye in the Sky - Unpiloted aircraft in a future near you - Alan F. Lynch


Video Name

Eye in the Sky - Unpiloted aircraft in a future near you - Alan F. Lynch


NSERC Communications



Release Date

May 3, 2012


The field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is garnering a great deal of interest from Canadian industries seeking new ways to monitor and maintain infrastructure in remote areas. Alan Lynch is developing autonomous control systems for use in UAVís to enable partners such as B.C. Hydro to fly a camera along stretches of power lines to search for sections in need of repair.

Eye in the Sky - Unpiloted aircraft in a future near you - Alan F. Lynch

Alan F. Lynch

What I do is a mix of algorithm development and practical work. Although some of the work we do is theory, we also like to put a big emphasis on specific test stands (ph) that are of industrial relevance. The recent research has focussed on autonomous helicopter.

So this is our outdoor helicopter. And we've basically modified this RC helicopter in a number of ways. So the avionics system provides an embedded computer and a bunch of sensors, including gyros, accelerometers, GPS, magnetometer. And these sensors are key for the system to be able to sense its configuration.

So what we have now is we have it in manual mode, and the sticks directly influence the swashplate, which then controls the orientation of the helicopter. And so if I flick a switch here, then it'll turn it into computer-controlled mode. And now you can see that, when I orient the helicopter, the swashplate reacts on its own without having the pilot having to do anything. So it if moves to the right, then the swashplate will orient in an appropriate direction to provide the torque to restore the hover configuration.

what we're seeing are trajectories of the so-called roll and pitch angles. So you can see the trajectories being logged here on the screen. So this is going to sit on the ground and there's a radio link including wi-fi linked to the base station we`ve got set up right now.and being able to - interact with the helicopter, provide it reference signals and so on and keep track of the pilot controls.

These are all key components to the autopilot system.

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