The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance as well as in search and rescue is rapidly expanding in both civilian and military applications at an unprecedented rate which was not foreseen a decade ago. Accordingly, there are significant job... Show moreThe use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance as well as in search and rescue is rapidly expanding in both civilian and military applications at an unprecedented rate which was not foreseen a decade ago. Accordingly, there are significant job opportunities in this field and it is expected that this will continue to grow in the next decade. The design of UAS is truly an interdisciplinary task as it requires team work with expertise in diverse areas ranging from aircraft design to autonomous flight, video and data transmission to visual object recognition, the operation of a ground station such as real time data analysis and antenna tracking. In this IPRO project, we are developing an electric powered low cost UAS solution that utilizes larger autonomy than most current UAS designs. The goal is to design and build a small‐scale UAS that is capable of (i) autonomous flight and navigation through way points within a mission zone of 2 km radius with fail‐safe functions such as “return‐to‐home” and “flight termination” in case of radio and/or video transmission loss and (ii) target recognition through real‐time video and telemetry transmission and data analysis. This is to be done by using image processing algorithms coupled with position determination from GPS receivers and other onboard sensors. The data acquired will then be transmitted to a ground station for post processing and prioritization. The design of the UAS would require the selection or construction of a stable airframe with the flight characteristics required for high quality images and video as well as a decent endurance and range for the surveillance of large areas. Furthermore signal transmission, reception and processing methods will need to be developed to ensure functionality at a multitude of ranges and conditions, with provisions being made for overlapping signal coverage. The focus this semester will be placed on smooth system integration as each one of these tasks is closely related to others. This IPRO project will also be an excellent platform to get hands‐on exposure to rapidly developing and commonly available technologies such as GPS receiver modules, gyroscopes, infrared (IR) sensors, inertial measurement units (IMU), pressure sensors, auto‐piloting systems and software development, lithium polymer (LiPo) battery powered electric propulsion systems, wireless telemetry and audio/video transmission, diversity antennas and antenna tracking systems, etc. The IPRO team will also address broader issues concerning (i) the testing and use of UAS in national air space for flight operations (provided by the FAA) and remote observing (both federal and state policies), and (ii) the use of surveillance equipment by private observers or even local government offices to observe private property. To this end, IPRO team will analyze government documents to establish limits of current civilian UAS usage with the objective of (i) identifying specific areas where technology can be expanded quickly, and (ii) creation of a document specifying the policy limitations and technical requirements for UAS flight operations and remote observing, which will be extremely valuable beyond this project and serve as a guide for future development.
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