P07122: Modular, Scalable, Autonomous Flight Vehicle

Project Readiness Package

Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Project Name
Autonomous Quadcopter
Project Number
Project Family
P07120 Micro Air Vehicle
Aerospace Systems and Technology
Start Term
End Term
Faculty Guide
Dr. Vincent J. Amuso (EE)
Faculty Consultant
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Primary Customer
Dr. Vincent J. Amuso (EE Dept. Head)
Secondary Customers
RIT Honors Program - Dr. David Mathiason, Director
Customer contact information
Dr. Vincent J. Amuso,
Associate Professor and Electrical Engineering Deparment Head

Mission Statement

The mission of this student team is to develop a modular, scalable flight vehicle that can be operated autonomously. The vehicle should be able to control its own flight based on information gathered by sensors aboard the aircraft. The vehicle should also be able to carry interchangeable payloads to meet the needs of various potential customers. The team must provide complete documentation of the analysis, design, manufacturing, fabrication, test, and evaluation of this subsystem to a level of detail that a subsequent team can build upon their work with no more than one week of background research.

Staffing Requirements

Team Member Discipline Role / Skills email address
Vincent J. Amuso EE Faculty Guide, Will work closely with the team on an on-going basis to facilitate success. vjaeee@rit.edu
Jason Enslin EE Project Manager, Circuit Design jwe1583@rit.edu
Richard Nichols EE Controls, Sensor Selection and Interfacing ran0572@rit.edu
Courtney Walsh ME Flight Dynamics and Propulsion cbw9125@rit.edu
Jeff Welch ME Mechanical Design and Analysis jsw8517@rit.edu
Glenn Kitchell CE GPU Programming & Interfacing gmk6467@rit.edu

Continuation, Platform, or Building Block Project Information

The mission of the Aerospace Systems and Technology Track of projects is to develop the stands, platforms, propulsion systems, vehicles, and controls to be integrated as complete aeronautical and aerospace projects for use in a variety of education, research & development, and outreach applications within and beyond the RIT KGCOE. The collection of projects should use an engineering design process to develop modules and subsystems that can be integrated by subsequent senior design teams. This project, P07122, is the first senior design project to attempt an autonomous flying vehicle. The project will serve as a platform for future teams to build upon.

The mission of each student team contributing to this track is to develop or enhance either a subsystem for the METEOR family of projects or an Air Vehicle for the Micro Air Vehicle family of projects. Teams must also provide complete documentation of the analysis, design, manufacturing, fabrication, test, and evaluation of each subsystem and vehicle to a level of detail that a subsequent team can build upon their work with no more than one week of background research.

This roadmap will be initiated during the Fall Quarter, 2006-1, with nine related projects. Projects will have much stronger relationshps within the same family (P07100 or P07120). However, there is still expected to be significant overlap for all projects in the Aerospace Systems and Technology Track (P07100).

P07122 is a project within the Aerospace Systems and Technology Track, to develop a modular, scalable, autonomous flight vehicle. The focus of the students on this team is to design a mechanically innovative, autonomously controlled flight vehcile. The overall goal of this project is to be able to support multiple customers by designing for flexible and scalable payloads.

A number of other projects are intimately related to this project, as summarized in the list below.

Related Project Title Start Term End Term
P07100 METEOR Family 2006-1 On-going
P07102 METEOR Space Environment Test Stand 2006-1 2006-2
P07103 METEOR Instrumentation Platform 2006-1 2006-3
P07104 METEOR RITSAT1 Satellite 2006-1 2006-3
P07105 METEOR Launch Vehicle 2006-2 2006-3
P07106 METEOR Inertial Navigation and Guidance 2006-2 2006-3
P07107 METEOR Mission Control Procedures 2006-2 2006-3
P07108 METEOR Gliding Instrumentation Platform 2006-2 2006-3
P07120 Micro Air Vehicle Family 2006-1 on-going
P07121 Kozak MAV Project 2006-1 2006-3
P08140 Modular, Open Architecture Unmanned Air Vehicle Platform (UAV) Family 2006-1 on-going

Principle Sponsor or Sponsoring Organization

This project is supported by two different organizations. The RIT Honors Program has generously awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Grant to the honors students participating in this project. The intent of the RIT Honors Program is to enrich student's academic endeavors, further their personal growth through leadership, foster a sense of unity, promote service in the community, and develop skills lasting beyond their time at RIT. The RIT Electrical Engineering department will also be sponsoring this project with the aspiration of using the autonomous flight vechile for Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) research.

Detailed Project Description

Customer Needs

First Sponsor Interview
Interviewer: Jason Enslin
Sponsor: Dr. Vincent J. Amuso
Date 15 September 2006, EE Conference Room

Dr. Vincent J. Amuso is a co-sponsor of senior design project P07122 as the electrical engineering department head. A one-hour interview was conducted with him on Friday, September 15 2006. Below is a transcript of the main aspects of the interview. Please note that Dr. Amuso is not a traditional customer in this case. He has agreed to sponsor a project that a senior design team presented to him. Consequently, the questions asked in this interview are adapted for his role in the project.

Interviewer: What does the electrical engineering department hope to gain from this project?

Dr. Amuso: I would like a piece of hardware that was designed and implemented by RIT students. I would like to be able to showcase the final product at RIT functions as well as take it with me to conferences, high school visits, etc. I would also like a detailed report of the design process to serve as a model for other students.

Interviewer: Is there a particular need that could be satisfied by the project or is there a certain function that you would like the final product to perform?

Dr. Amuso: The main thing is that I would like this project to serve as a platform for other students to build off of in the future. Also, if possible, it would be nice to have on board sensors aboard the aircraft to gather data. The project could possibly benefit my GPR work or maybe the METEOR project.

Interviewer: Are there any time constraints that you would like the team to meet?

Dr. Amuso: I would just like it completed by graduation 2007.

Interviewer: Are there certain checkpoints to be met during the course of the design?

Dr. Amuso: I would like bi-weekly status reports, including where you are in regards to your schedule and how much money has been spent relative to your budget.

Interviewer: Are there any particular components/systems that you would like to see us collaborate with or integrate with?

Dr. Amuso: Other senior design students have developed the PC104 microprocessor and I would like it if you could use it as the processor in your flight vehicle. This would be a great integration between two senior design projects.

Interviewer: Are there any intellectual property rights that the EE department will claim as a result of this project?

Dr. Amuso: No, this project will be open source. All information should be available to the public.

Interviewer: Are there any engineering specifications that the EE department would like met?

Dr. Amuso: The flight vehicle should have a half-mile radius range and fly at a minimum of 100 feet. There should be two-way communication between the ground and the aircraft. The aircraft should be autonomous with a pre-defined flight path that can be altered by real-time measurements gathered by the platform. There should also be a retrieval system on board the platform.

End of Interview

Needs Summary
No. Need Importance
1 Fly Autonomously ***
2 Ability to carry a picosat load ****
3 Stability ****
4 Controllability ****
5 Establish a platform ***
6 Scalability **
7 Emergency retrieval system ***
8 Working piece of hardware for showcase ****
9 Gather data **
10 Integrate PC104 microprocessor *
11 Two-way communication capability ***
12 Complete a test course with waypoints assigned by the customer ***
Useful Resources
Spark Fun Electronics
Digikey Electronics
Tower Hobbies

Customer Deliverables

Design and build a flight vehicle that can be controlled autonomously and carry a payload consisting of at least one picosatellite. This project should establish a platform that future students can build upon in subsequent quarters.

Customer and Sponsor Involvement

The team will be expected to carry out the vast majority of their interactions with the Team Guide (Dr. Amuso). Dr. Amuso will also be functioning as the sponsor and customer in this project as well, so he will be recieving scheduling and budget updates throughout Senior Design I and II as well. An undetermined faculty consultant specializing in aerodynamics or fluids from the mechanical engineering department will also be available for the team.

Regulatory Requirements

Project Budget and Special Procurement Processes

Intellectual Property Considerations

All work to be completed by students in this track is expected to be released to the public domain. Students, Faculty, Staff, and other participants in the project will be expected to release rights to their designs, documents, drawings, etc., to the public domain, so that others may freely build upon the results and findings without constraint.

Students, Faculty, and Staff associated with the project are encouraged to publish findings, data, and results openly.

Engineering Specifications

The mission of this project is to successfully develop a modular, scalable, autonomous flight vehicle. The long-term goal of this project is to be able to support multiple customers by designing for flexible and scalable payloads. One application that this vehicle could be used for is to carry a bowtie antenna and perform ground penetrating radar measurements while flying autonomously.

The primary customer, Dr. Vincent J. Amuso, representing the Electrical Engineering Deparment of RIT, has expressed his technical objectives for the design project as outlined by the following engineering requirements.

Engineering Requirements

No. Category Requirement
1 Performance Ability to fly to and hover 75-125 feet off the ground
2 Performance Controllable within 0.25 mi radius, max 125 ft line of sight
3 Performance Communication between aircraft and ground station - 1 channel, bi-directional, 1kb/sec data rate
4 Performance Flight time between 10-30 minutes
5 Budget Stay within estimated budget of $2000
6 Budget Use a PC104 based processor
7 Schedule Bi-weekly status reports, including budget updates
8 Schedule Main parts ordered/obtained by winter break
9 Schedule Functional product & test flight demonstration by the end of Senior Design II

In order to measure how well the senior design team is meeting the customer needs and requirements, the following table of engineering metrics will be used.

List of Metrics

The table below presents the metrics that will be used by the team to design against. NOTE: the "Need Nos" column refers to the Customer Needs table presented in the Customer Needs section of the PRP.

List of Metrics
Metric No. Need Nos. Metric Importance Units Target Value
1 1,3,4,12 Track position in x,y,z **** m +/- 10
2 1,2,3,4,6,12 Vehicle speed **** mph 5-10
3 1,3,4,6,12 Turn radius **** m 8-10
4 2,3,4,5,6 Payload capability *** kg min load: 1
5 1,4,6,7,10,12 Power supply duration *** min min:10 max:30
6 2,3,4,5,6,12 Vertical acceleration **** m/s^2 down: 4 up: 1
7 1,4,7,9,11,12 Max transmitting distance **** m 500
Needs - Metrics Matrix
Needs and Metrics Metric 1 Metric 2 Metric 3 Metric 4 Metric 5 Metric 6 Metric 7
Need 1 x x x x x
Need 2 x x x x
Need 3 x x x x
Need 4 x x x x x x
Need 5 x x
Need 6 x x x x x
Need 7 x x x
Need 8 x x x
Need 9 x x
Need 10 x x x x
Need 11 x
Need 12 x x x x x x x

Safety Constraints

Detailed Course Deliverables

Note that this level describes an absolute level of expectation for the design itself, and for the hardware. However, the student team must also meet all requirements related to analysis, documentation, presentations, web sites, and posters, etc. that are implicit to all projects.

See Senior Design I Course Deliverables for detail.

The following tasks should be completed by the end of SD1:
The following tasks should be completed by the end of SD2:

Preliminary Work Breakdown

The following is a general outline of the tasks that should be completed by each discipline through the first three weeks of SD1. The student team is expected to develop their own individual work breakdown structure, consistent with the general work outline presented in the workshop series at the beginning of SD1. However, the customer requests a level of detail NO GREATER than weekly tasks to be completed by each student team member for the benefit of the other team members. The customer DOES NOT request any level of detail finer than one-week intervals, but will assist the team members if they wish to develop a finer level of detail to support their own efforts.

Person Week 0->1 Tasks

(8 Dec 06)

Week 1->2 Tasks

(15 Dec 06)

Week 2->3 Tasks

(22 Dec 06)

ME Student 1 Research propeller based vehicles and determine appropriate size propeller for the engineering requirements Research gas vs. electric motors and determine appropriate size/power required Begin a preliminary design of propulsion system
ME Student 2 Research frame materials and determine weight requirements for components Gather information on picosat load and consider parts needed for mechanical drivetrain system Begin a preliminary design of basic frame
EE Student 1 Research propeller-based flight vehicle and investigate control/stability issues Determine appropriate electrical components required for control system Begin a prelminary design of the control system
EE Student 2 Research flight vehicles & wireless communication and determine options for a tracking system Determine appropriate electrical components required for tracking/communication systems Begin a prelminary design of the control system
CE Student 1 Review the literature on the PC104 Microprocessor & determine advantages/disadvantages Become familiar with the PC104 Software Work closely with the EE students on design of control system and advise on processor capabilities

Grading and Assessment Scheme

Grading of students in this project will be fully consistent with grading policies established for the SD1 and SD2 courses. The following level describes an absolute level of expectation for the design itself, and for the milestones reached. However, the student team must also meet all requirements related to analysis, documentation, presentations, web sites, and posters, etc. that are implicit to all projects.

Grade Level SD1 Accomplishments SD2 Accomplishments
Level D Specifies components for frame and control systems with little design Low-level design of flight vehicle & control system
Level C Level D plus Level D plus the vehicle will have the ability to communicate with ground station in mid-flight and carry a picosat load
Level B Level C plus completed design for control and propulsion systems with an outlined test plan Level C plus the ability to fly a test course with minimal input from ground control along with a partially scaleable design
Level A Level B plus integration of control and propulsion systems with preliminary testing results and a complete test plan Level B plus the ability to fly a test course completely autonomously along with a fully scaleable design

Required Resources

Item Source Description Available
Dr. Amuso EE Faculty Guide/Coordinator/Mentor Yes
Dr. Hensel ME Consultant Yes
??? ME Technical Consultant ???
Item Source Description Available
Sr Design Lab EE 09-3xxx Work Space Yes
Machine Shop ME 09-xxxx Work Space Yes
Item Source Description Available
Desktop PC Throughout Programming Yes

The team members will be expected to procure the materials needed for the project, excluding the following:

Item Source Description Available
Picosat Load Unknown Payload Unknown
PC104 Microprocessor software EDGE Microcontroller software Yes