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PhD Defense: Collision-free Navigation of Small UAVs in Complex Urban Environments

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Speaker: Arun Annaiyan
Event date: Wednesday, 26 September 2018 02:00 pm - 04:30 pm
Place: Room Salle des Conseils, Campus Kirchberg

Members of the defence committee:


  • Chairman: Prof. Dr. Francesco Viti, University of Luxembourg
  • Vice-chairman: Prof. Dr. Mohamed Darouach, Université de Lorraine, IUT de Longwy, France
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Voos, University of Luxembourg
  • Member: Dr. Miguel Olivares Mendez, University of Luxembourg
  • Member: Prof. Dr. Harouna Souley Ali, Université de Lorraine, IUT de Longwy, France




Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to become highly innovative solutions for all kind of tasks such as transport, surveillance, inspection or guidance, and many commercial ideas already exist. Herein, small multi rotor UAVs are preferred since they are easy to construct and to fly, at least in wide open spaces. However, many UAV business cases are foreseen in complex urban environments which are very challenging from the perspective of UAV flight. Our work focuses on the autonomous flight and collision-free navigation in an urban environment, where GPS is still considered for localization but where variations in the accuracy or temporary unavailability of GPS position data is explicitly considered. Herein, urban environments are challenging because they require flight nearby large structures and also nearby moving obstacles such as humans and other moving objects, at low altitudes or in very narrow spaces and thus also in areas where GPS (global positioning system) position data might temporarily be very inaccurate or even not available. Therefore we designed a custom stereo camera with adjustable base length for the perception of the possible potential obstacles in the unknown outdoor environment. In this context the optimal design and sensitivity parameters are investigated in outdoor experiments. Using the stereo images, graph based SLAM approach is used for online three dimensional mapping of the static and dynamic environment. For the memory efficiency incremental online loop closure detection using bag of words method is implemented here. By having the three dimensional map, the cost of the cell and its transition calculated in real time by the modified D* lite which will search and generate three dimensional collision free path planning. Experiments of the 3D mapping and collision free path planning are conducted using small UAV in outdoor scenario. The combined experimental results of real time mapping and path planning demonstrated that the three dimensional collision free path planning is able to handle the real time computational constraints while maintaining safety distance.