A Kite in the Wind: Trajectory Optimization in a Moving Frame


2016_kitewind

A significant challenge for unmanned aerial vehicles capable of flying long distances is planning in a wind field. Although there has been a plethora of work on the individual topics of planning long routes, smooth trajectory optimization and planning in a wind field, it is difficult for these methods to scale to solve the combined problem. In this paper, we address the problem of planning long, dynamically feasible, time-optimal trajectories in the presence of wind (which creates a moving reference frame).

We present an algorithm, KITE, that elegantly decouples the joint trajectory optimization problem into individual path optimization in a fixed ground frame and a velocity profile optimization in a moving reference frame. The key idea is to derive a decoupling framework that guarantees feasibility of the final fused trajectory. Our results show that KITE is able to produce high-quality solutions for planning with a helicopter flying at speeds of 50 m/s, handling winds up to 20 m/s and missions over 200 km. We validate our approach with real- world experiments on a full-scale helicopter with a pilot in the loop. Our approach paves the way forward for autonomous systems to exhibit pilot-like behavior when flying missions in winds aloft.


Related Publications

A KITE in the Wind: Smooth Trajectory Optimization in a Moving Reference Frame
Vishal Dugar, Sanjiban Choudhury, Sebastian Scherer
2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) February, 2017
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Smooth Trajectory Optimization in Wind: First Results on a Full-Scale Helicopter
Vishal Dugar, Sanjiban Choudhury, Sebastian Scherer
AHS Forum, Vol 73, 2017 March, 2017
pdf