Integration of Fully-Actuated Multirotors into Real-World Applications

Azarakhsh Keipour, Mohammadreza Mousaei, Andrew T Ashley, Sebastian Scherer

The introduction of fully-actuated multirotors has opened the door to new possibilities and more efficient solutions to many real-world applications. However, their integration had been slower than expected, partly due to the need for new tools to take full advantage of these robots. As far as we know, all the groups currently working on the fully-actuated multirotors develop new full-pose (6-D) tools and methods to use their robots, which is inefficient, time-consuming, and requires many resources. We propose a way of bridging the gap between the tools already available for underactuated robots and the new fully-actuated vehicles. The approach can extend the existing underactuated flight controllers to support the fully-actuated robots, or enhance the existing fully-actuated controllers to support existing underactuated flight stacks. We introduce attitude strategies that work with the underactuated controllers, tools, planners and remote control interfaces, all while allowing taking advantage of the full actuation. Moreover, new methods are proposed that can properly handle the limited lateral thrust suffered by many fully-actuated UAV designs. The strategies are lightweight, simple, and allow rapid integration of the available tools with these new vehicles for the fast development of new real-world applications. The real experiments on our robots and simulations on several UAV architectures with different underlying controller methods show how these strategies can be utilized to extend existing flight controllers for fully-actuated applications. We have provided the source code for the PX4 firmware enhanced with our proposed methods to showcase an example flight controller for underactuated multirotors that can be modified to seamlessly support fully-actuated vehicles while retaining the rest of the flight stack unchanged.

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