Kansas Unmanned Systems Conference, 2013

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  • ItemOpen Access
    When is a drone not a drone? Performing meaningful scientific work with the AggieAir Unmanned Aerial System
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-09) Coopmans, Calvin; Jensen, Austin M.; McKee, Mac
    Current aerial drones are platforms for weapons or surveillance, providing actionable intelligence or targeted strikes. Although similar in many respects, the AggieAir UAS is not a drone. AggieAir is designed to target scientific remote sensing applications, and has been used to provide meaningful scientific data for many ecological applications, including precision agriculture, wetland vegetation mapping, and river monitoring for fish habitat. This poster introduces AggieAir from a scientific perspective and shows how key differences from other UASs allow collection of significant scientific data, used in meaningful ways.
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    Modeling tallgrass prairie above-ground biomass in the central great plains using ultra-high spatial resolution multispectral imagery
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Wang, Chuyuan; Price, Kevin P.; van der Merwe, Deon; Wang, Huan; An, Nan
    This paper studied the relationship between tallgrass prairie above-ground biomass (AGB) and spectral data by linking ground AGB measurements with ultra-high spatial resolution multispectral imagery and using NDVIgreen as the predictor. It also evaluated the potential of upscaling these data to satellite imagery of much coarser spatial resolution. Using spectral reflectance data collected by spectroradiometer, the statistically significant regions of the spectrum that have the highest correlations with AGB were detected. Results showed that NDVIgreen can explain 91% and 74% of the total variance in AGB measurements for imagery collected at 3 m and 50 m above the ground respectively, while the model built using NDVIgreen values derived from 2000 m altitude imagery was not statistically significant. There is also a very strong correlation (r=0.96) between NDVIgreen values derived from 3 m and 50 m altitude imagery, which indicates that these data have the potential to be scaled up to coarser spatial resolution satellite imagery to provide tallgrass prairie AGB estimations and to be validated over much larger geographic area. The spectral regions that have the highest significant correlations with tallgrass prairie AGB are wavelengths at 583-705 nm, 724-1113 nm, 1421-1799 nm and 1961-2400 nm.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Using small unmanned aircraft systems for high spatial and temporal resolution characterizations of harmful algal blooms
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) van der Merwe, Deon; Price, Kevin P.
    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are of toxicological interest because several genera of cyanobacteria, also known as blue‐green algae, have the ability to produce potent toxins that affect people, livestock, pets, and wildlife. Risk assessments based on traditional sampling methods are hampered by the sparseness of data points, and delays between sampling and the availability of results. These shortcomings of traditional sampling methods are highly significant when there is a need for actionable information at the spatial resolution of animal or human interactions with specific areas of a lake surface or lake shoreline, and within a timeframe that is relevant given the rapidly changing spatial distribution of algal blooms. Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) provide a means of collecting spatially high resolution data on the surface densities of algae. Digital color‐infrared image data collected by an sUAS can be rapidly processed into information useful for risk assessment and risk management by converting image data into an index of algae density. In a proof‐of‐concept project, color‐infrared aerial images were collected using an sUAS fitted with a color‐infrared sensor, at three time points, from a section of Lake Centralia in Kansas, during a HAB formed by Microcystis aeruginosa cyanobacteria. The results revealed a high level of spatial and temporal variability in the HAB, and it clearly demonstrated the applicability of sUAS‐based aerial imaging to HAB characterization, at spatial and temporal resolutions relevant to localized and timely risk assessments.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Unmanned aircraft systems roadmap to the future
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Toscano, Michael
    AUVSI’s mission is to advance the unmanned systems and robotics community through education, advocacy and leadership. AUVSI’s vision is to improve humanity by enabling the global use of robotic technology in everyday lives. In its 41st year, AUVSI is the world’s largest non-profit association devoted exclusively to unmanned systems and robotics. AUVSI represents more than 7,500 members, including more than 600 corporate members from more than 60 allied countries.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Keynote address
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Tafanelli, Lee
  • ItemOpen Access
    Real-time collision and obstacle avoidance in unmanned aerial systems
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Stastny, Thomas J.; Garcia, Gonzalo A.; Keshmiri, Shawn S.; Ewing, Mark S.; Lykins, Ryan; Hale, Richard D.
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  • ItemOpen Access
    Qualification and structural design guidelines for military unmanned air vehicles: Linking UAV categories to risk and safety
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Saff, Charles R.; Mennle, E.; Olsen, Jim
    Unmanned air vehicles are being developed today at an ever increasing rate. Some are being developed by traditional aircraft development organizations working hard to meet customer needs and desires and producing a large variety of such aircraft. But many of today’s UAVs are being developed by non-traditional aircraft companies, start-ups as well as companies that do not have a long tradition of meeting armed forces level specifications. In many cases the aircraft being fielded today have not had anything like a conventional structural qualification test program, and they are certified to fly by exception to the current rules in restricted and combat airspaces. These aircraft were developed to prove capabilities of such systems, but in doing so provided capabilities that are now considered indispensable in the battlefield, situational awareness unlike anything available in the past, with the ability to pin-point targets as small as individuals in theatre. These systems, however, have not been developed with consideration for durability, damage tolerance, maintainability or repairability. They were short life demonstrators plucked from the test ranges to the combat theatre to meet a need – a need that was considered too great to wait for anything like a traditional qualification test program. UAVs cover a broader range of the flight spectrum than manned vehicles. Applying traditional manned qualification processes to these vehicles can penalize the capabilities of autonomously controlled vehicles that respond more than fifty times as fast as humans to perturbances in the flight regime. To apply conventional qualification approaches to the very small aircraft coming onto the scene now is simply not justified either for cost or in recognition of the limited flight regime in which such aircraft fly. To develop a set of qualification guidelines that can extend across the panorama of flight from vehicles weighing grams to those crossing the sky at re-entry velocities, from vertical takeoff and landing vehicles to vehicles that remain airborne for weeks at a time has proven a challenge. It caused the Team to seek key parameters of flight and interpret them in new ways so that these vehicles are not over-penalized by legacy standards but still provide the level of safety expected from flight vehicles in today’s environment. In recognition of the progression of many of these vehicles from demonstrator, to limited operational vehicles, to fully operational vehicles, these guidelines were developed to progress through these stages in development and build the qualification tests of previous stages so that none need to be repeated but all contribute to the full qualification of the vehicle when it is accepted into fully operational flight. Finally, to ensure an equivalent level of safety for all UAVs to today’s manned vehicles, these guidelines must accommodate not only the vehicle, its speeds, its mass, and its operating system, but its weaponry, its lethality to both air and ground personnel (especially in crash situations), and its flight regime or airspace (be it restricted, controlled, or unrestricted). All of these factors have influenced the formation of the categories and qualification recommendations summarized in this report. This report is the work of many individuals from the NATO nations represented within AVT- 174, and reflects dialogue with qualification authorities for both military and civilian airspace. These guidelines assume that UAVs will one day have full authority to fly in international airspaces shared with manned aircraft under rules and regulations that assure equivalent safety to those applied to manned aircraft.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Composites and advanced materials testing relative to UAS at the National Institute for Aviation Research
    (Kansas State University, 2014-01-08) Opliger, Matt
    The Composites and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research has extensive experience and capabilities relative to UAS testing. Most of these tests are protected with tightly sealed nondisclosure agreements, however, the lab’s experience includes qualification of materials for numerous UAS programs and full-scale structural testing for the Boeing UCAS. NIAR’s Composites and Advanced Materials Lab has an international reach and reputation in material testing and qualification for composites and metals. Capabilities include lay-up, machining and bonding operations; environmental effects including heat, moisture, contamination and lightning strike; thermoset, thermoplastic and rapid prototyping; and static and fatigue testing for articles from small coupon samples to full-scale aircraft. Yearly the lab sends 45,000 coupon samples through machining and quality control, sets 30,000 strain gauges and tests 34,000 coupon samples. The lab boasts additional capabilities since the expansion of its Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center to the former Britt Brown Arena at the Kansas Coliseum, including increased space and staff to accommodate concurrent testing and the addition of a 500-kip axial torsion load frame. The 500-kip frame is can apply up to 500,000 pounds of axial force along with with 60,000 ft-pounds of torque and has an active working region of approximately eight feet. The lab has instant access to qualified materials systems through the university’s FAA-funded National Center for Advanced Materials Performance and the Composites Materials Handbook, published by WSU. The goal of the presentation is to expand on these relationships and capabilities for the benefit of the Kansas UAS industry.
  • ItemOpen Access
    An overview of small aircraft design at Wichita State University
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-21) Miller, L. Scott
    Wichita State University (WSU) has designed, built, and flown over fifty (50) small and unique aircraft over the last five years. The planes vary in span and weight, respectively, between one to twelve feet and one to twenty-five lbs. Most of the aircraft were designed to meet undergraduate capstone senior design course requirements. Fifteen (15) of the planes utilized autopilot systems and one (1) design explored autonomous cooperative operations (between multiple aircraft for enhanced soaring performance). The presentation will review WSU academic and research experiences and plans/opportunities for the future.
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    Joint UAS field project overview
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-21) Morris, Landon
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    Unsteady and nonlinear system I.D. of large unmanned aerial systems
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-21) Lykins, Ryan; Keshmiri, Shawn S.; Lan, Eddy
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    System identification of Meridian unmanned aerial system
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Keshmiri, Shawn; Ewing, Mark; Hale, Richard
    The unsteady and nonlinear aerodynamic characteristics of the Meridian unmanned aerial system in the presence of wind shear are investigated using the recorded test data during flights in Polar Regions. The main purpose of this paper is to determine the reasons for and characteristics of oscillations that occurred in the flight for improvement of autopilot design and ground operator training.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Recent UAS aerodynamics testing activities at WSU-NIAR
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Kelly, Kevin W.
    Since 2009, the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel (WBWT) at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research has provided significant aerodynamic testing services in support of eleven unmanned aerial systems (UAS), aerial target, missile, and bomb development programs. The goal of the presentation is to educate the Kansas UAS industry on the capabilities and value of wind tunnel testing at the WBWT.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Developing UAV insurance and risk management strategies
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Goldsmith, Grant E.
    This presentation from an insurance industry professional covers insuring and managing risk for unmanned air vehicles.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Design, development and operation of uavs for remote sensing
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Ewing, Mark S.
    The Flight Research Lab, in partnership with the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), has developed an ice-penetrating radar system on a 1100 lb gross takeoff weight/100 lb payload UAV. Based on radar miniaturization, a UAV with a 75 lb gross takeoff weight/20 lb payload has recently been designed and is currently in flight test. Both systems were designed based on the radar system requirements. For the 1100 lb Meridian, the radar mass and flight range dictated the size of the aircraft, and resulted in a unique spot in design space not available from existing vehicles. For the 75 lb YAK/G1X, an available “kit” aircraft nearly fit the bill, but a larger wing was needed for the radar; so a longer wing was designed for the stock fuselage. CReSIS and KU Composites Lab teams have fielded numerous radar systems for crewed aircraft including the DC-8, P-3 and Twin Otter. These radar have imaged bedrock beneath as much as 3.5 km of ice in Antarctica, giving glaciologists never-before seen glimpses of the topography of the continent. Now, radar have been designed for UAVs with the goal of reducing the danger of human flight over glaciers. [Last year a Twin Otter crew was lost in Antarctica in a quickly-moving storm.] The Flight Research Lab has developed a design/build/test process to provide semi-autonomous, remote sensing UAV platforms to meet unique sensing needs. Full-time staff is augmented by talented undergrads and graduate students who work on the team as they learn relevant analysis, design, fabrication and test skills. Flight test partners include private contractors, Kansas businesses and the KSU Aviation Technology Department. Some of the unique design features to be discussed include: • Carbon fiber and glass fiber structures augmented with both aluminum and wood substructure • Customized avionics (autopilot, navigation, communications and power distribution) • Quasi-real-time simulation processes for nonlinear aircraft dynamics identification and control system design, which enable smaller UAVs which are more agile (think able to avoid others) Some of the evolving technologies to be discussed include “flight director” systems coupling autopilot, navigation and situational awareness systems for see/sense & avoid capability, including cognitive architectures for on-board decision-making.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Bio-inspired underwater robots powered by electroactive polymer artificial muscles
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Chen, Zheng
    Autonomous underwater robots are highly demanded in environmental monitoring, intelligent collection, and deep water exploration. Aquatic animals (e.g., fishes, whales, rays, etc.) are ultimate examples of superior swimmers as a result of millions of years of evolution, endowed with a variety of morphological and structural features for moving through water with speed, agility, and efficiency. Recent years have also witnessed significant effort in development of bio-inspired underwater robots to mimic aquatic animals, such as robotic fish, robotic jelly fish, and robotic manta ray. In most of these robots, traditional electric motors were used to generate rotation motions. However, since flapping motions are normally adapted by aquatic animals for maneuvering and propulsion, power transmissions are needed to translate rotation to flapping. These electric motors and power transmissions are too bulky to be embedded into small scale bio-inspired robots. Novel actuating materials, which are light, soft, and capable of generating large flapping motion under electrical stimuli, are desirable to build energy efficient and highly maneuverable bio-inspired underwater robots. Electroactive polymers (EAPs) are emerging smart materials that generate large deformations under electrical stimuli. EAPs have different configurations. Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites are important category of EAPs, which can generate large bending motion under low actuation voltages. IPMCs are ideal artificial muscles in small scale bio-inspired robots. A systems perspective is taken in this research, from modeling, control, and bio-inspired design. This presentation will be organized as follows. First, a physics-based and control oriented model of IPMC actuator will be discussed. Second, a bio-inspired robotic fish propelled by IPMC caudal fin will be presented and a steady-state speed model of the fish will be developed. Third, a bio-inspired robotic manta ray propelled by two IPMC pectoral fins will be demonstrated. Fourth, a buoyancy control device powered by IPMC enhanced electrolysis will be discussed. Last, advantages and challenges of using IPMC artificial muscles in bio-inspired robots will be concluded.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Controller design for a nonlinear morphing UAV
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-18) Aponso, Gayanath; Chakravarthy, Animesh
    In this work, we provide details of the control design of a morphing UAV capable of variable wing sweep. This morphing capability is assumed to be superimposed on a GENMAV (Generic Micro Air Vehicle) configuration originally developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The nonlinear aerodynamic model for this aircraft is obtained using the Athena-Vortex Lattice (AVL) method with a quasi-steady state assumption.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Evaluating bioenergy potential of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) stands using a small unmanned aerial system (sUAS)
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-12) Burchfield, David R.; Price, Kevin; Bryant, Johnny; van der Merwe, Deon; Wang, Huan; Armbrust, Ryan; An, Nan; kpprice; dmerwe
    Due primarily to changes in land management practices, Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.), a native Kansas conifer, is rapidly invading onto valuable rangelands. The suppression of fire and increase of intensive grazing combined with the rapid growth rate, high reproductive output, and dispersal ability of the species have allowed it to dramatically expand beyond its original range. A 2002 study of redcedar expansion in Oklahoma reported an economic loss of $447 million by 2013 and an invasion rate of 762 acres per day. There is a growing interest in harvesting this species for use as a biofuel. For economic planning purposes, density and biomass quantities for the trees are needed. High resolution color-infrared imagery was collected over redcedar stands in Riley County, Kansas using a Canon S100 camera modified to collect images in near-infrared, green, and blue wavelengths. The camera was flown aboard a DJI S800 hexcopter over redcedar stands to collect the imagery. The imagery was processed to produce an orthophoto and 3D model from which individual redcedar tree biophysical properties were assessed. Using allometric equations, trees were evaluated for total aboveground biomass and British Thermal Unit (BTU) potential. The methods shows considerable promise for sites where tree canopy is not coalescing and individual tree canopy size can be determined.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Complex meteorological support system for UAVs: a Hungarian statistical and numerical approach in the practice
    (Kansas State University, 2013-11-12) Bottyán, Zsolt; Gyöngyösi, András Z.; Wantuch, Ferenc; Tuba, Zoltán; Kardos, Péter
    The accurate, high detailed and specific meteorological information is essential for unmanned aerial operations. To avoid losses we need to reduce weather risk by a more accurate and sophisticated meteorological support of flight mission planning and execution. That was the reason of the development of a complex meteorological support system, which is able to effectively reduce the potential risk based on weather impacts of aviation. Fulfilling this requirement an Integrated Aviation Weather Prediction System (IAWPS) has been developed. An extensive technical implementation of Weather Research and Forecasting limited area model has been applied to supply operative numerical prediction information for IAWPS. Different parameterization of the model system have been investigated on 9 typical weather situations, all of them having aeronautical safety relevance from the weather hazard point of view. The system also includes a dataset-based mission planning part, and an ultra-short term fuzzy logic based analog forecasting subsystem. This part uses fuzzy logic in searching process and Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) in weighting the chosen meteorological parameters. The fuzzy logic based analog forecasting subsystem find the most similar situations to the actual weather situation and it helps to give an ultra-short term forecast for the most relevant meteorological parameters. The results of the verification are convincing and help to optimize the system before operational use. On the other hand, meteorological measurements with sensors developed especially for unmanned aerial operations have been done. This paper introduces the applicability of this numerical weather prediction system for special forecasting needs of unmanned aerial systems. Following the short introduction of the weather prediction system that was applied, results of the case study test runs are compared to both surface and spatial observations which consequently determined operative model setup and further investigations. The experiences of UAV flights are also presented. Finally we show our developed website where the short time weather predictions are found for the UAV pilots, mission specialists and decision makers, too. We have to note our system is a very flexible and applicable everywhere in the world because we used the freely accessible meteorological data such as WRF products and METARs!