Research Platforms

Our group's focus is on the development of autonomous aerial and underwater vehicles for sensor networking application. To this end, a series of aerial and underwater vehicles have been developed. Some of the vehicles are equipped with thermodynamic sensors, GPS, IMU units, on-board camera, radio-transmitter, etc.

Currently there are a few active research projects:

Aerial Platforms

7 inch - 90 gram Micro Aerial Vehicle

This vehicle designed over the last couple of years and tested in summer 2008 is a rugged small and low weight mobile sensor equipped with thermodynamic sensors, GPS, radio-transmitter, basic IMU, on-board camera, etc. The vehicle is designed for tube-launch or catapult launch from ground or another larger aerial vehicle. The vehicle is built in one piece carbon composite for structural integrity in severe weather conditions.

Movies



MAV, catapult launch, electronic board, and camera board.

6 inch MAVs

Two generation of 6 inches MAV was developed. Both mylar membrane-wing and carbon composite wings were designed and built. The vehicle has a total weight of 70 grams.

Delta Wing Vehicle

This vehicle is approximately 450 grams about 2 ft wing span, it has catapult launch mechanism, equipped with GPS, IMU, radio-transmitter, several sensors, camera, etc. The vehicle was used in multi-vehicle sensor networking scenarios. This vehicle was developed with D. Lawrence. See

Movies

Warping-Wing MAV

This vehicle was designed to warp its wing similar to what a bird does. The wing is built from carbon composites with fiber glass toward the tips and designed battens to give it the desired flexibility.

  • MPEG format. Warping & membrane wing MAV. This vehicle use wing warping for control.

    Sweep-Wing MAV

    The vehicle can sweep its wing during the flight. The following pictures show the fabricated vehicles and its numerical simulation.

    (Left) Fully deployed for loitering (Middle) Sweeped back for dashing (Right) Tube-launch position with pulled back props.


    (Left) CAD model of the fully deployed vehicle for loitering (Middle) Computational mesh (Right) CFD results for separation bubble and tip vortices on top of the vehicle.

    2015 UF MAV

    This vehicle was our first attempt in building MAVs. It has a wing span of 11 inches, mylar covered wing and 230 grams.



    Florida MAV.

    We have developed computational capabilities for simulation of flow at low Reynolds number around a MAV. The following images show the mesh and streamlines around the Florida MAV.


    Florida MAV.

    We have developed computational capabilities for simulation of flow at low Reynolds number around a MAV. the following images show the mesh and streamlines around the Florida MAV.


    Mesh on MAV for CFD calculations.

    Bio-Inspired Underwater Vehicles

    Ideas from bio-mimicry of sea animals are explored for low speed maneuvering of underwater water vehicles. To this end, a novel pulsatile jet propulsion scheme for low speed maneuvering of small underwater robots will be developed, demonstrated, and characterized. This propulsion scheme is loosely analogous to that used by squid and jellyfish. The potential for pulsatile jet propulsion is explored by first optimizing the design of a pulsatile jet actuator and associated actuation concepts. Next a vehicle-level fluid dynamical model will be developed in order to capture the interaction of the pulsatile jet flows with the primary flow past the vehicle. Prior development in nonlinear averaging-based vehicle feedback control schemes will be adapted to this technology using such models. The pulsatile jet prototypes and control scheme will be integrated into a prototype underwater vehicle, whose performance is characterized. The suggested propulsion scheme has very few moving parts, has no protruding components that increase drag, and takes up relatively little volume.

    Research in my group on vortex dynamics and in particular its applications to low speed maneuvering of small underwater vehicles and an steering mechanism for capsule endoscopy was featured as the cover story of the New Scientist on October 23, 2004. Click on the images for the full articles.

    Cephalobot



    KRAKEN

    KRAKEN (Kinematically Roving Autonomously Kontrolled Electro-Nautic) is our latest underwater vehicle. It is equipped with squid thrusters for low speed maneuvering, forward and bottom looking cameras, and a suite of on-board sensors to determine its relative position, velocity, and attitude. This information is used in conjunction with an image recognition system to autonomously traverse an underwater course designed to exercise the novel technologies and abilities of the vehicle. An embedded LabVIEW system processes this information and provides autonomy and closed-loop feedback control capabilities. The vehicle is also equipped with three acoustic hydrophones as part of an acoustic locating system.

    KRAKEN Movies


    CALAMAR-E

    The third generation underwater vehicle built in our group is named the Cavity Actuated Low-speed Aquatic Rover Experiment (CALAMAR-E). This vehicle uses a rear propellor for forward propulsion, but contained no control surfaces of any kind. Instead all of the maneuvering forces were provided by squid or vortex ring thrusters. The maneuvering system of this vehicle was proven to be successful via rotation and translation tests and an inclusive parallel park test illustrated in the movies below.

    CALAMAR-E Movies

    Note that in all movies the propeller is not activated.


    RAV

    RAV (Remote Aquatic Vehicle) is the 2nd underwater vehicle built in our group. It was equipped with the first generation of squid thrusters (solenoid activated).


    HydroBuff

    Hydro-Buff is the first underwater vehicle built in our group. It uses a rear propellor for forward propulsion, and two sets of control surfaces for maneuvering. This vehicle serves as a baseline or control to represent the maneuvering capabilities offered through typical control surface technology.

    HydroBuff Movies