Autonomous and scalable control for remote inspection with multiple aerial vehicles

Clark, Ruaridh A. and Punzo, Giuliano and MacLeod, Charles N. and Dobie, Gordon and Summan, Rahul and Bolton, Gary and Pierce, Stephen G. and Macdonald, Malcolm (2016) Autonomous and scalable control for remote inspection with multiple aerial vehicles. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 87. pp. 258-268. ISSN 0921-8890

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    Abstract

    A novel approach to the autonomous generation of trajectories for multiple aerial vehicles is presented, whereby an artificial kinematic field provides autonomous control in a distributed and highly scalable manner. The kinematic field is generated relative to a central target and is modified when a vehicle is in close proximity of another to avoid collisions. This control scheme is then applied to the mock visual inspection of a nuclear intermediate level waste storage drum. The inspection is completed using two commercially available quadcopters, in a laboratory environment, with the acquired visual inspection data processed and photogrammetrically meshed to generate a three-dimensional surface-meshed model of the drum. This paper contributes to the field of multi-agent coverage path planning for structural inspection and provides experimental validation of the control and inspection results.