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Authors: Coppa, U.* 
Guarnieri, A.* 
Pirotti, F.* 
Vettore, A.* 
Title: Accuracy enhancement of unmanned helicopter positioning with low-cost system
Issue Date: 2009
Series/Report no.: /1(2009)
DOI: 10.1007/s12518-009-0009-x
Keywords: UAV
Model helicopter
Kalman filter
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.03. Geodesy::04.03.09. Instruments and techniques 
Abstract: In the last years, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems have become very attractive for various commercial, industrial, public, scientific, and military operations. Potential tasks include pipeline inspection, dam surveillance, photogrammetric survey, infrastructure maintenance, inspection of flooded areas, fire fighting, terrain monitoring, volcano observations, and any utilization which requires land recognition with cameras or other sensors. The flying capabilities provided by UAVs require a welltrained pilot to be fully and effectively exploited; moreover the flight range of the piloted helicopter is limited to the line-of-sight or the skill of the pilot to detect and follow the orientation of the helicopter. Such issues are even more important considering that the vehicle will carry and operate automatically a camera used for a photogrammetric survey. All this has motivated research and design for autonomous guidance of the vehicle which could both stabilize and guide the helicopter precisely along a reference path. The constant growth of research programs and the technological progress in the field of navigation systems, as denoted by the production of more and more performing global positioning systems integrated with inertial navigation sensors, allowed a strong cost reduction and payload miniaturization, making the design of low-cost UAV platforms more feasible and attractive. In this paper, we present the results of a flight simulation system developed for the setup of the vehicle’s servos, which our autonomous guidance system, as well as the module for camera photogrammetric image acquisition and synchronization, will be based on. Building a simulated environment allows to evaluate in advance what the main issues of a complex control system are to avoid damage of fragile and expensive instruments as the ones mounted on a model helicopter and to test methods for synchronization of the camera with flight parameters.
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