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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R005494/1
Title: Persistence through Reliable Perching (PEP)
Principal Investigator: Liu, Dr C
Other Investigators:
Chen, Professor W
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 March 2017 Ends: 28 February 2018 Value (£): 20,160
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Control Engineering Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), enjoying the advantage of small size and low-weight, can be easily carried by end-users and rapidly deployed into different scenarios. However, multi-rotor, battery powered SUAS usually have the endurance of around 20 mins. In contrast, a common request for SUAS is the persistence of hours or more. Swarm Systems is developing a product for the growing market need of flying binoculars based on a Nano quadrotor platform (under 200g). Customers are specifically asking for a perch and stare capability to achieve persistence. However, perching using existing technology is very hit and miss. This Persistence through Reliable Perching (PEP) proposal has a goal of achieving greater than 99% reliability in perching on unprepared, outdoor locations in challenging weather conditions and taking off again. The PEP research approach includes: adding new passive and active sensors, creating soft sensors from combinations of existing sensors, researching a novel automatic abort using 'disturbance from internal model' techniques and innovating undercarriage design including multi-surface gripping. In particular, the Loughborough team will be responsible to develop the novel 'abort' flight control function to enable the SUAS to recover from unsuccessful perching in the presence of external disturbances such as wind gusts or contact with obstacles. A disturbance observer based on the quadrotor's internal model will be designed as a 'soft' sensor to provide estimates on abnormal external forces acting on the airframe together with normal sensors. The estimates will then be fed into a decision-maker to trigger the 'abort' flight mode, where a dedicated flight controller will be designed and optimised to perform this maneuver.

PEP project management will be led by an analysis of perching ground types and weather conditions. The final 1/3 of the project will be focused on improving where testing proves that reliability is poor. The Loughborough team will use its world leading indoor flight test facility (using Vicon system) to verify its algorithm and help the system integration of different algorithms into Swarm System's Nano quadrotor. A commercial goal is to add a key new capability to Swarm Systems product, enabling it to win export orders.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk