MICROPROCESSOR-CONTROLLED AERIAL ROBOTICS TEAM
Spring 2002 Status Report to Lockheed Martin
May 2, 2002
This report is to inform Lockheed Martin of the Micro-CART project progress.
The members of Micro-CART would like to thank Lockheed Martin for providing the necessary funding to keep
Micro-CART an ongoing senior design project at Iowa State University.
The goal of Micro-CART is to launch Iowa State University into International Aerial Robotics Competition held
annually at Georgia Institute of Technology. The competition poses four major goals each team must complete as
Level 1 Qualification: Demonstrate autonomous flight from point A to point B.
Level 2 Qualification: Demonstrate the ability to identify the desired target structure from an autonomously
flying aerial robot.
Level 3 Qualification: Relay reconnaissance data derived from an autonomous Aerial Robot (or sub
vehicle) operating from within the target structure, back to the actual starting point or a simulated
Level 4 Qualification: Execution of the full mission profile in less than 15 minutes.
At the present time Micro-CART is expecting to complete level two qualification in the 2004 competition.
Previously Completed Tasks:
Researched, purchased, assembled and test flew a R/C helicopter
Purchased a desktop PC
Purchased a R/C flight simulator
Researched and purchased the following sensor components:
Polaroid 6500 sonar
Began preliminary research for the following items:
Image processing unit
During the fall 2000 semester two minor setbacks occurred.
First, the helicopter became unflyable. While achieving rotor speed, one bolt holding the main rotor blades together
became loose allowing the rotor blades to disconnect. As a result, shafts were bent and small parts were lost.
Second, Dr. John Bassart advised his last semester due to retirement. Beginning with the spring 2001 semester Dr.
John Lamont and Prof. Ralph Patterson III began advising Micro-CART. At that time the team also broke into three
subgroups as follows:
System Requirements – Focuses on administrative duties and helicopter flightworthiness.
Flight Controls – In charge of flight control algorithms and data processing.
Communications – Responsible for collecting and transferring data for processing.
The following are to-date accomplishments of each subgroup:
Created a Team Handbook
Began a Strategic Plan
Repaired and flew helicopter
Began research on ground vehicle
Setup and implemented formal pilot training program
Applied for sponsorship from Rockwell Collins
Research and ordered, but not yet received, a PC/104 board
Began Flight Control Development
Purchase and Implement servo microcontroller
Created skeleton flight control program
Built a Physical Simulator
Accurately range objects with sonar sensor package
Determined validity of previously purchased sensors
Determined sensor requirements necessary for autonomous flight
Researched and ordered, but not yet received, an Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU)
The next step is to implement basic autonomous flight of the R/C helicopter. Micro-CART is in the process of
developing a standard helicopter control system algorithm. The control algorithm will require parameters specific to
the R/C helicopter Micro-CART owns. With a suggestion from Rockwell Collins Radio Control Club, the method
for collecting parameter data will be via instrumentation in response to various control actions. The PC/104 board
will be used to record pulse width modulated (PWM) signals controlling various servos while the helicopter is
controlled by a human. The PC board will also record signals from an inertial measuring unit (IMU), a device used
to sense 3 axes of movement. Using the collected data, the necessary parameters can be found.
Finalize all necessary instrumentation
Collect and interpret instrumented data
Find a mathematical model of the helicopter
Finish creating the control algorithm
Investigate necessary imaging hardware and software systems
Test basic hover capabilities, first through simulation then R/C helicopter
Add GPS and wireless communication for point to point flight
Purchase necessary imaging hardware and software
Begin work image processing system
Add interaction with outside objects such as a tree or building to flight control algorithm
Continue work with image recognization system
Final integration between autonomous vehicle and image recognization system
Attend IRAC competition
In the final design, an imaging system will direct the helicopter to its designation. Once there, a combination of
sonar and imaging data will be needed to discover necessary information to show level two qualifications.
New missions will be in place beginning with the 2005 competition. Because of this, necessary designs to complete
level 3 or level 4 qualifications may need to be modified. Micro-CART realizes it needs to consider the necessary
design issues to complete the qualifications when designing current systems, but have prioritized its resources to
basic then full autonomous flight.
Lockheed Martin thus far has donated $15,000 to Micro-CART. A total of $11,529.87 has been spent to date as
shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Micro-CART Expenditures
General Description Expenditure
ISU Foundation Cost $750.00
Dual-axis rate gyroscope & associated materials $307.32
Helicopter (Original Build) $1,745.93
Real Flight Simulator (2 versions) $409.98
Desktop PC $1,459.00
Digital Compass $104.95
Repair Parts for Helicopter $369.12
Servo Motor Controller $81.00
Helicopter upgrade Parts $533.41
Sonar and associated materials $186.93
PC/104 Board $554.00
Inertial Measuring Unit $5,000.00
Miscellaneous Expenses $28.23
Expenditure as of 4/1/2002 $11,529.87
Items listed in Table 2 are the anticipated expenditures required to participate in the 2004 competition.
Table 2: Expected Expenditures
General Description Expenditure Anticipated Expenditure Date
Various Materials $1,500 Throughout the project
Wireless link $2,000 Fall 2002
Global Positioning System $2,000 Spring 2003
Imaging System $2,500 Spring 2003
Laptop Computer $2,000 Fall 2003
Entry Fee $1,000 Spring 2004
Transportation to contest $10,000 Summer 2004
Total Anticipated Expenditure $21,000
Again Micro-CART would like to thank Lockheed Martin for its prior funding. We hope Lockheed Martin is
satisfied with our progress and will continue future funding of this project.
Micro-CART would also like to recognize all support Lockheed Martin provides to Iowa State University. Industrial
support is an essential key to the quality of education Iowa State University provides.
Please feel free to check out our website at http://seniord.ee.iastate.edu/ongo03/.
Attached is a copy of the Spring 2002 Status Report.
Micro-CART Team Members