Svetlana Potyagaylo is a Research Engineer working with Prof. Omri Rand at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Technion - Israel Technology Institute. She received her Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Technion, Israel, in 2013, where she was supervised by Prof. Omri Rand and Dr. Yaron Kanza. Her research interests include motion planning and control, trajectory planning, localization and mapping, and GPS-denied navigation for unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopter dynamics and control, robotics, etc.
My research is focused on targeted flight of an autonomous rotary wing micro aerial vehicle (RW MAV) in indoor, GPS-denied environments. We consider targeted flight as navigating to a goal position, defined by relative distance from a known initial position. This research includes the development of the methodology and the required algorithms for such missions where the vehicle faces different challenges, such as the absence of accurate information regarding its position, lack of a priory known map of the environment, and unavailability of additional aid from external systems. The developed modular system tackles different aspects of an autonomous flight of a conventional micro-helicopter including estimation of the vehicle's position and orientation, creation and updating a virtual map of the environment, planning a safe path towards a target, and computing the commands required to fly along the planned path. In targeted flight, the vehicle cannot rely on loop-closure algorithms for smooting and improvement of generated maps, as it is more common in tasks of mapping. Thus, the accuracy of the algorithms, especially the accuracy of position estimates becomes crucial.
The proposed system for GPS-denied navigation and targeted flight consists of several modules: a SLAM module for estimation of the vehicle position with respect to the virtual map of the environment, while simultaneously creating and updating that map; a Path Planning module for planning a obstacle-free path within an unknown environment; and a Motion Planning module for calculating instant control commands.
The whole system for autonomous targeted flight of RW UAVs and its components copes with different challenges, such as limited payload, high agility, limited maneuverability, complex dynamics of RW vehicles, time constraints, etc. This results in high complexity of each individual module and of the overall system due to the module interactions and interdependencies. Additionally, the system also include a high-level module that exposes such features as mission planning, situation awareness, and decision making.
The primary use of our system may be in the field of search and rescue missions, where flying vehicles may be exploited to explore dangerous areas or to localize and examine hazardous or remote objects. However, it is important to note that the proposed system may be used in a wide range of missions for different types of unmanned aerial vehicles.