Autonomous Localization of 1/R² Sources Using an Aerial Platform

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Virginia Tech

Unmanned vehicles are often used in time-critical missions such as reconnaissance or search and rescue. To this end, this thesis provides autonomous localization and mapping tools for 1/R² sources. A "1/R²" source is one in which the received intensity of the source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. An autonomous localization algorithm is developed which utilizes a particle swarm particle ltering method to recursively estimate the location of a source.

To implement the localization algorithm experimentally, a command interface with Virginia Tech's autonomous helicopter was developed. The interface accepts state information from the helicopter, and returns command inputs to drive the helicopter autonomously to the source. To make the use of the system more intuitive, a graphical user interface was developed which provides localization functionality as well as a waypoint navigation outer-loop controller for the helicopter. This assists in positioning the helicopter and returning it home after the the algorithm is completed.

An autonomous mapping mission with a radioactive source is presented, along with a localization experiment utilizing simulated sensor readings.

This work is the rst phase of an on-going project at the Unmanned Systems Lab. Accordingly, this thesis also provides a framework for its continuation in the next phase of the project.

VTOL, Autonomous, Source Localization, Drone aircraft