Simulation and Integration of a 6-DOF Controllable Multirotor Vehicle
Deans, Collin Andrew
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The purpose of this thesis is to develop an existing design of a fully controllable multi-rotor vehicle toward simulating small satellite dynamics, enabling technology development to be accelerated and component failure risks to be mitigated by providing a testing platform with dynamics similar to those of small satellites in orbit. Evaluating dynamics-sensitive software and hardware components for use in small satellite operations has typically been relegated to simulated or physically constrained testing environments. More recently, researchers have begun using multi-rotor aerial vehicles to mimic the orbital motion of such satellites, further increasing simulation fidelity. The dynamical nature of multi-rotor vehicles allows them to accurately simulate the translational dynamics of a small satellite, but they struggle to accurately simulate rotational dynamics, as conventional multi-rotor vehicles' translational and rotational dynamics are coupled. In this thesis, an optimal design for a multi-rotor vehicle independently controllable in all six degrees of freedom is evaluated as a suitable simulation platform. The design of the proposed physical system is discussed and progress toward its construction is demonstrated. To facilitate future research endeavors, a simulation of the vehicle in a software-in-the-loop environment, using the Gazebo dynamics simulator, is developed and its performance evaluated. This simulation is then used to evaluate the vehicle's feasibility as a small-satellite dynamics simulator by tasking it with tracking dynamic position and attitude time histories representative of a small satellite.
General Audience Abstract
When developing a spacecraft, it can be difficult to accurately test software and hardware that are sensitive to the spacecraft's motion. This difficulty arises because the space environment experienced by orbiting spacecraft allows them to move and rotate freely, and recreating this freedom of motion on earth requires large, expensive, and difficult-to-access test equipment. To make this testing more accessible, researchers have begun using quadcopter drones to mimic some aspects of a spacecraft's motion. While quadcopters can move like an orbiting spacecraft can, their designs do not allow them to rotate like an orbiting spacecraft can, thus providing an incomplete recreation of spacecraft motion. To correct this shortcoming, an existing drone design that is able to move and rotate simultaneously without fear of crashing is developed, with progress shown toward its construction. A software simulation of the drone is developed to help future researchers test software and algorithms before flying it on the physical drone. The simulation is then used to see how well the drone design can recreate the motions that a small spacecraft would experience.
- Masters Theses