A Master of Science Thesis in Mechatronics Submitted by Mohammed Mahedi Hasan Entitled, "AUS-UAV HILS Setup of Dynamic Flight Path Planning," August 2006. Thesis Advisor is Dr. Mohammed Ameen Al-Jarrah. Available are both Soft and Hard Copies of the Thesis.
My research will utilize the existing UAV test-bed consisting of the TRI-60 RC airplane, the Avionics Unit, the embedded controller system, and the Ground Station to test minimum time flight path algorithms and mission planning capability in three dimensions. The research will be two pronged: with one area being directed toward an up-to-date reliable simulation capability to test the UAV to ensure its flight readiness and the other area being to create actual test scenarios to collect data, and verify the validity of the simulations and fine tune the mechanical and electrical configurations. The Ground Station will be used to monitor the UAV status during flight, and to make the UAV "flexible missions" capable. For the purpose of this research, missions are described as the ability of the UAV to move between two different coordinates in the map, indicated by their Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) coordinates and altitude. A successful demo of the Hardware in the Loop Simulation of the Ground Station and Avionics Unit depicts the embedded microcontroller of the UAV accepting mission waypoints and then controlling the virtual TRI-60 RC airplane over them according to the path strategy devised. The path strategy takes the aircraft between two waypoints in three dimensions using the shortest path and at the same time ensures that the aircraft faces a certain heading once it reaches its waypoint. During the course of the thesis, minimum time paths, dead reckoning (inertial navigation) algorithms, and practical real time effects were researched. Future UAV research for this university should include the ability to land and take off autonomously, and the ability to do formation flights. The UAV test-bed should also be upgraded using new design technologies to create a more sophisticated Avionics Unit capable of auto-navigation. The ability to do surveillance should also be incorporated into the UAV by including an onboard camera and an image processor. This would require upgrading to a bigger fuselage (or airframe) to store the required components.