Infrared Piloted Autonomous Landing: System Design and Experimental Evaluation 2014-01-2196
This paper introduces a new equipment, which allows autonomous landing and docking of a VTOL aircraft and any mobile system. It has been studied and developed inside the MAAT (Multibody Advanced Airship for Transport) EU FP7 project to control autonomous docking of manned cruiser and feeder airships in movement. After a detailed analysis it has been verified that It could be considered a technological spin off the MAAT project. It defines a new instrumental system for governing relative positioning between a movable target and VTOL air vehicles, such as helicopters, airships and multi-copters. This solution is expected to become a short time to market equipment for helicopters (both manned and unmanned) ensuring autonomous landing ability even in case of low visibility. Infrared emitters allow controlling both position and yaws angle. It is in advanced testing phase after a preliminary successful testing using a quadcopter. Tests has produced autonomous landing on a small platform mounted on an unmanned vehicle. In some experiments also landing on a target in movement has performed. The proposed solution is an alternative to more sophisticated vision based controls. It ensures high affordability, high simplicity and low costs. In addition, this concept can equip any fixed and mobile platform and open the novel scenario for autonomous scout vehicles equipped by UAVs.