Solar-Powered Long-Endurance UAV
for Real-Time Onboard Data Processing

Project Description


Given the wide range of possibilities, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent a growing market in CPS and they are perceived as an "enabling technology" to re-consider the human involvement in many applications on a global scale. One of the major challenges in enabling this growth is UAV endurance. This is directly related to the amount of energy available to the UAV to perform its mission. This proposal looks to increase UAV endurance by trading off UAV performance with energy efficient computing. This requires mapping of mission and goals into energy needs and computational requirements. The goal of the project is to show that this trade can enable long-duration flight especially when solar energy is utilized as a primary energy source. The ambitious plan is to develop a light weight and efficient aircraft capable of maneuver-aware power adaptation and real-time video/sensor acquisition and processing for up to 12 hours of continuous flight (this limit being set by daylight hours). This project aims to expanding the theoretical and practical foundations for the design and integration of UAVs capable of real-time sensing and processing from an array of visual, acoustic and other sensors.

Power Modeling

Creating an accurate Power Model of aircraft power consumption is essential for strategic long-endurance flight.

uavAP
Modular Autopilot

The Modular Autopilot Framework, which is available as open-source (link below), allows several participants to work together by seamlessly switching between autopilot functionality.

Aircraft Optimization

Optimizing aircraft is crutial to extend the endurance of aircraft.

Future Work

Further improving the Power Model and incorporating it into an optimal planning algorithm will lead the way to long-endurance solar flight.

UIUC Solar Flyer Videos

See videos of our aircraft take to the sky and safely recover!


8-hour flight with high winds and clouds:

Takeoff

Landing




1-hour test flight under ideal conditions:

Takeoff

Landing




Autonomous flight with uavAP in high winds:

Flight



Publications


O. Dantsker, M. Theile, M. Caccamo, and R. Mancuso, "Design, Development, and Initial Testing of a Computationally-Intensive, Long-Endurance Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Atlanta, GA, USA, June, 2018. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Vahora, S. Imtiaz, and M. Caccamo "High Fidelity Moment of Inertia Testing of Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Atlanta, GA, USA, June, 2018. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Theile, and M. Caccamo, "A High-Fidelity, Low-Order Propulsion Power Model for Fixed-Wing Electric Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA/IEEE Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, USA, July, 2018. pdf

M. Theile, O. Dantsker, R. Nai, and M. Caccamo, "uavEE: A Modular, Power-Aware Emulation Environment for Rapid Prototyping and Testing of UAV"
in IEEE International Conference on Embedded and Real-Time Computing Systems and Applications (RTCSA), Hakodate, Japan, August, 2018. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Caccamo, and R. Deters "Propulsion System Testing for a Long-Endurance Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Dallas, TX, USA, June, 2019. pdf

O. Dantsker, S. Yu, M. Vahora, and M. Caccamo "Flight Testing Automation to Characterize UAV Aerodynamics"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Dallas, TX, USA, June, 2019. pdf

O. Dantsker, S. Imtiaz, and M. Caccamo, "Electric Propulsion System Optimization for Long-Endurance and Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA/IEEE Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium, Indianapolis, IN, USA, August, 2019. pdf

M. Theile, S. Yu, O. Dantsker, and M. Caccamo, "Trajectory Estimation for Geo-Fencing Applications on Small-Size Fixed-Wing UAVs"
in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Macau, China, November, 2019. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Theile, M. Caccamo, S. Yu, M. Vahora, and R. Mancuso
"Continued Development and Flight Testing of a Long-Endurance Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft: UIUC-TUM Solar Flyer"
in AIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, Orlando, FL, USA, January, 2020. pdf

M. Theile, O. Dantsker, R. Nai, M. Caccamo, and S. Yu "uavAP: A Modular Autopilot Framework for UAVs"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Virtual Forum, June, 2020. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Caccamo, R. Deters, and M. Selig "Performance Testing of Aero-Naut CAM Folding Propellers"
in AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, Virtual Forum, June, 2020. pdf

O. Dantsker, S. Imtiaz, and M. Caccamo, "Propulsion System Design, Optimization, Simulation, and Testing for a Long-Endurance Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2020 Forum, Virtual Forum, August, 2020. pdf

O. Dantsker, M. Theile, and M. Caccamo, "Integrated Power Modeling for a Solar-Powered, Computationally-Intensive Unmanned Aircraft"
in AIAA/IEEE Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium, Virtual Forum, August, 2020. pdf

NSF Year 1 Poster & Presentation

Learn more about our first year's progress!

NSF Year 2 Poster

Learn more about our second year's progress!

NSF Year 3 Poster & Presentation

Learn more about our third year's progress!

ICCPS 2018 Tutorial

Downloads

Contributors



Marco Caccamo

Marco is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also has courtesy appointments in the Coordinated Science Lab (CSL) and the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. He has chaired Real-Time Systems Symposium and Real-Time and Embedded Technology and Applications Symposium and served as General Chair of Cyber Physical Systems Week. He is an IEEE fellow and recipient of the Humboldt Professorship.

Email Website


Or Dantsker

Or is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include experimental aerodynamics and system integration of unmanned aircraft, particularly focusing on long-endurance solar flight. Or is also the co-founder of Al Volo LLC, which produces data acquisition systems for unmanned aircraft as well as other applications.



Email Website


Mirco Theile

Mirco Theile is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Computer Science and an Associate Researcher at the Chair for Cyber Physical Systems in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. Mirco employs simulation methods for the development of control and planning algorithms focusing on reinforcement learning for cyber-physical systems.



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Junda "Simon" Yu

Simon is a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently a graduate research assistant working for Prof. Lui Sha on autonomous and cyber-physical systems including unmanned aerial vehicles, self-driving cars, and more.

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Saym Imtiaz

Saym Imtiaz is an undergraduate student studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include system optimization of unmanned aircraft.



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Andrew Louis

Andrew is an Embedded Software Engineer at Bell Helicopters. He graduated in 2017 with a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.





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Renato Mancuso

Renato is an Assistant Professor at Boston University. He graduated in 2017 with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.





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Richard Nai

Richard Nai is a Master's student in the Department of Computer Science and a Research Associate at the Chair for Cyber Physical Systems in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. Richard is currently developing various support infrastructure for AI controllers for cyber physical systems.

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Daniel Amir

Daniel is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science and Engineering Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.





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Ned Ellis

Ned Ellis is a sophomore undergraduate studying Electrical Engineering at UIUC. He is interested in integrating ML/AI techniques with Control Theory to enable smart air and space borne platforms. He also enjoys RTOS development for embedded systems and their use in reaching these goals.


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Arjun​ ​Nijhawan

Arjun​ is an undergraduate student studying Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.






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Raimi Shah

Raimi is an undergraduate student studying Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.






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Jack Yang

Jack is an undergraduate student studying Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.






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