IARC Mission 9

Mission 9: The 2019-2020 competition year will introduce contestants to IARC’s new Mission 9: Fly an aerial robot around a half-mile loop four times, or over 3 kilometers, to a moving simulated mast on a roll table, remove and replace a "communications module" attached to the boat’s mast, and then return to the starting position. The mission must be accomplished in under 9 minutes, which poses a unique challenge to the team.

Philosophy: In order to better manage where the team and to more efficiently explain to team members where progress is, we are dividing the entire competition up into three different phases. Phase one is “Qualification” with it’s goal being that the team meets IARC’s minimum requirements for competition. This includes autonomous take off, land, and hover, carry a two kilogram payload, and avoid a 0.3x0.3 meter object. Along with making sure the team has a prototype drone that fulfills these requirements. After phase one, the team moves on to phases two, or “Compete”. Phase two’s goal is to make sure the team places. Currently this includes making sure the drone can make it to the ‘ship’ and perform the control module manipulation and fly back. Along with making any necessary work to make sure phase one is still completed. The time limit of the competition is not considered for this duration of work. Lastly, the team moves on to phase three, “Optimization”. With these phases being so far in the future, there are not a lot of plans for this phase other than make everything fit within the time limit. Outside of that though, we are sure that problems will arise that will need fixing in this phase, such as changing the airfoil for better aerodynamic properties.

Our Progress: Originally, the team discussed various ideas about how the drone should be designed. Eventually a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Land) won out for its ability to hover and to fly over long distances quickly and efficiently. Here are a few of the designs we came up with:

As it stands currently the team is still in phase one due to mechanical design not being completed within the desired time frame. However though, we have decided to move forward with a design and start prototyping from there. The first version of this prototype will function as a scaled down version of the full model we plan to do. This is because the mechanical team does not have experience in aerodynamics and this scaled down model will provide a proof of concept and hands-on experience. If the prototype performs within tolerance, we will begin making the full scale to test payload weight and to begin testing our autonomous suite.

Our Autonomous suite is currently under a firmware migration from PX4 to Ardupilot. This is because we had an issue with what we think to be PX4 not linking mavros to ROS Melodic. Along with the fact that we learned that ardupilot seems to be an overall improvement to PX4.