Degree Name

Master of Computer Science - Research


School of Computer Science and Software Engineering - Faculty of Informatics


To achieve stable autonomous control of an indoor flying robot is a challenging proposition in the field of robotics today. Many researchers are inspired by the echolocation of bats and vision of bees and attempt to duplicate this behaviour by using sonar sensors, cameras and onboard microprocessors. This project aims to achieve the same goal but with a different approach. We propose to build a software architecture for controlling a four-rotor helicopter, DraganFlyer, from a host computer. In order to do this, we equipped the DraganFlyer with communication devices, an Inertial Navigation Sensor (INS) and batteries.

The DraganFlyer is a four-rotor helicopter that can hover and move freely in air. Due to the near zero friction and damping at slow velocities it is marginally stable in six degrees of freedom. The aim of the overall research project is to understand the dynamics of the DraganFlyer and hence to achieve hover without drift and trajectory following without wandering. Development of software to achieve this level of control from a remote host poses a significant software design problem.

This thesis focuses on the software design problem, i.e. the design and development of real-time software for measuring the dynamics and for control of the DraganFlyer. The software runs on a host Macintosh and is divided into three main sections. One is the measurement of DraganFlyer motion with an INS. The second is the calculation of the control commands. The third is the control of the DraganFlyer via the radio control handset.

As these sections have different timing requirements, a significant part of the software design and testing time was spent examining how to decompose the system based on timing requirements and constraints. Then we had to determine how to couple these modules together to achieve overall timing goals without data loss.

Two types of experimental results are presented. The first results are to test the software, both the correctness of the calculations and their timeliness. The second are measurements of the open loop response of the DraganFlyer.

02Whole.pdf (9391 kB)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.