Versatile Multilinked Aerial Robot with Tilting Propellers: Design, Modeling, Control and State Estimation for Autonomous Flight and Manipulation

08/12/2020
by   Moju Zhao, et al.
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Multilinked aerial robot is one of the state-of-the-art works in aerial robotics, which demonstrates the deformability benefiting both maneuvering and manipulation. However, the performance in outdoor physical world has not yet been evaluated because of the weakness in the controllability and the lack of the state estimation for autonomous flight. Thus we adopt tilting propellers to enhance the controllability. The related design, modeling and control method are developed in this work to enable the stable hovering and deformation. Furthermore, the state estimation which involves the time synchronization between sensors and the multilinked kinematics is also presented in this work to enable the fully autonomous flight in the outdoor environment. Various autonomous outdoor experiments, including the fast maneuvering for interception with target, object grasping for delivery, and blanket manipulation for firefighting are performed to evaluate the feasibility and versatility of the proposed robot platform. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study for the multilinked aerial robot to achieve the fully autonomous flight and the manipulation task in outdoor environment. We also applied our platform in all challenges of the 2020 Mohammed Bin Zayed International Robotics Competition, and ranked third place in Challenge 1 and sixth place in Challenge 3 internationally, demonstrating the reliable flight performance in the fields.

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