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California Institute of technology optimized UAV may fly to Mars

2020/9/7 21:43:56

The cannon squid UAV newly developed by California Institute of technology is expanded in size and can be folded independently. The squid UAV launched by trajectory may be deployed to Mars one day.

Last year at iros, the California Institute of technology and NASA's jet propulsion laboratory demonstrated a prototype of a ballistic launch four rotor aircraft - folded into the shape of a football with fins, stuffed the UAV into a tube, and then directed with compressed CO gas. At this time, it will expand itself, stabilize and fly away. Six months later, the researchers expanded the size and function on the original basis. Now they have six rotors and complete autonomy, which can be pressed into a 6-inch tube.

Last year, the original 3-inch (7.6 cm) squid was downgraded to "micro squid", but in general, the uniqueness of tubular drones is that they eliminate the fixed requirements of specific takeoff conditions of most drones. In last year's demonstration, the micro squid was launched from a mobile vehicle, but the overall idea is that you can launch squids from anywhere.

The purpose of micro squid is to develop general aerodynamic and structural principles for ballistic launch multi rotor aircraft, rather than developing something that can perform tasks. Having the ability to perform tasks in particular means realizing vehicle autonomy without relying on GPS, which in turn requires sensing and computing, and this structure is so bulky and energy consuming that it needs to enlarge the whole vehicle. The new 6-inch squid has undergone some major updates, including aerodynamic redesign to improve passive stability during launch and ballistic flight through the use of deployable fins. Autonomous hardware includes a camera (FLIR chameleon3), rangefinder (teraranger Evo 60m), IMU / Barometer (vectornav vn-100) and on-board computer (NVIDIA Jetson TX2).

California Institute of technology squid Canon UAV California Institute of technology squid Canon UAV

Top: squid overview. Bottom: the squid part is located in the launch tube (a), and its arms and fins are fully expanded from the side (b) and top perspective (c).

Structural and aerodynamic changes are necessary because the squid does not really fly, but only follows the trajectory when it leaves the launcher. It's not too bad if it's just a straight rise, but things get more complicated if the drone is launched at an angle or from a moving vehicle. The higher center of gravity helps the fins play a dual role by passively pointing the UAV into the air flow and acting as a landing gear - if there are no fins, it will start rolling the tube after leaving and then try to control it. In order to make the fins foldable and stable enough to make the squid fall on it, they have a latch mechanism to help maintain the hardness of the fins.

The 6-inch hard block on the squid diameter is indeed a real challenge. Most UAVs are constrained by power or mass, but squid is constrained by volume. Not only do you need to stuff all the batteries and computers into that space, but you also have to make sure that the sensor has the required field of view, and remember that in the folded state, all arms and legs must share the same space as all other spaces. Facts have proved that the optimization of squid is very good, and the weight is only 3.3kg. According to robot experts, the weight of non foldable and non optimized traditional UAV with similar functions is about 0.3KG.

The optimized squid also has the following advantages:

1. It starts very fast. 2. Safer. 3. It can be started when moving. 4. It can sometimes penetrate objects

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