Towards Autonomous Modular UAV Missions: The Detection, Geo-Location and Landing Paradigm

Sensors (Basel). 2016 Nov 3;16(11):1844. doi: 10.3390/s16111844.


Nowadays, various unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications become increasingly demanding since they require real-time, autonomous and intelligent functions. Towards this end, in the present study, a fully autonomous UAV scenario is implemented, including the tasks of area scanning, target recognition, geo-location, monitoring, following and finally landing on a high speed moving platform. The underlying methodology includes AprilTag target identification through Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) parallelized processing, image processing and several optimized locations and approach algorithms employing gimbal movement, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) readings and UAV navigation. For the experimentation, a commercial and a custom made quad-copter prototype were used, portraying a high and a low-computational embedded platform alternative. Among the successful targeting and follow procedures, it is shown that the landing approach can be successfully performed even under high platform speeds.

Keywords: UAV; autonomous landing; search and rescue; smart-phone drone.