I am very pleased to announce that I have been fortunate enough to be accepted as a GSoC student for ArduPilot. My project will be to add autonomous autorotation support for traditional helicopters. This thread will be a blog for me to post my progress, interact with the community (getting your thoughts and opinions), and to help me gain an appreciation of the diversity of vehicles that this function needs to serve.
The primary goal of this project is to enable ArduCopter to detect power-train failures and subsequently perform an autorotation. My intention is to do this in a robust manor that maintains generality to all trad helis and doesn’t require excessive tuning. This approach will essentially involve building a generic H-V lookup table that can be scaled based on a few physical properties of the helicopter (e.g. blade mass, disc loading, etc). If you would like more info then you can read my project proposal by going here and clicking on the project title.
As this needs to be generically applicable to all helis it is unlikely to be flawless. One of the primary concerns is the lack of a reliable height estimation that could lead to the heli still having a hard landing. Therefore, this functionality will be developed to allow the pilot to still add control corrections when operating within VLOS. When operating BVLOS the functionality will still serve to ensure that minimal damage is occurred and will offer an additional level of redundancy to the system.
With regards to landing options, it is currently intended to offer the following options:
- Landing straight ahead.
- Circling descent to land into wind.
- Attempting to land at the nearest rally point, into wind.
This is obviously dependent upon ensuring reasonable wind direction estimates.
As a part of this project I will be asking the community for support in the form of providing me with data from successfully flown autorotations. I will be posting up the details of what I am looking for in the next few days.
So that’s the project in a nut shell. Let me know what you think!