You are here

Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance via Perching Unmanned Air Vehicles


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. OBJECTIVE: Perform preliminary design of autonomous, robust, and versatile perching capabilities with an unmanned air vehicle to enable persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). DESCRIPTION: Small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have demonstrated the ability to autonomously plan trajectories that allow them to maneuver through tight spaces [1], precisely land on moving platforms [2], and even perch onto various targets in the environment (poles, rods, cables, walls, tree branches, etc.) [3]. Perching has been accomplished through grippers [4], magnets [5], adhesives [6, 7], modular/actuated landing gears [8], and metamorphic frames [9]. UAVs have demonstrated perching on targets with horizontal [10], vertical [11], inclined [12], and even inverted [13] orientations. Perching capabilities have been largely demonstrated in laboratory settings with the assistance of indoor cameras systems that provide accurate UAV state information to assist in perching on the desired target. The limited outdoor demonstrations of perching capabilities could be combined with recent advances in vision-based navigation algorithms to enable autonomous perching solely using onboard sensors [14]. Perching can offer significantly reduced energy usage compared to the power required for hovering, but energy expenditure may not be zero. Novel methods to recharge UAVs through powerlines [15] and photovoltaic cells [16] could be used to extend perching endurance for persistent ISR. The goal of this SBIR is to review the state-of-the-art and the capabilities of existing systems and then perform a thorough preliminary design of a system that would be capable of performing the persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission. The preliminary design should include, at a minimum, coverage of the platform, perching method/mechanism/algorithms, sensor payload(s), and recharging capability with respect to anticipated energy demand. The design should be able to identify a target perch location using onboard sensors and then autonomously navigate towards and robustly perch onto the target in an orientation that allows it to direct onboard sensors at a desired target location to provide persistent ISR. PHASE I: Detailed design and data package fully describing the candidate platform, perching method/mechanism/algorithms, sensor payload(s), and recharging capability will be submitted. The data package should include detailed description of modeling, analysis, and simulation activity used to determine that the system will be capable of satisfying mission requirements. PHASE II: Required Phase II deliverables include a demonstration with a prototype UAV autonomously perching onto realistic environments and providing ISR on a target location using multispectral sensors. The UAV shall be able to robustly perch onto the target and remain perched in wind conditions gusting up to 10 knots. The UAV must be able to remain perched without the use of propulsion and increase the charge on the vehicle’s battery by extracting energy from the environment. A report detailing the UAV’s dynamic response, flight control system, autonomy, perching mechanism and maneuver, and test results will be submitted. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: This capability could be used in military applications to deploy UAVs into contested areas for ISR while perching for concealment and endurance. REFERENCES: 1. Mellinger, D., Michael, N., Kumar, V., “Trajectory generation and control for precise aggressive maneuvers with quadrotors,” The International Journal of Robotics Research, January 2012. 2. Tzoumanikas, D., Li, W., Grimm, M., Zhang, K., Kovač, M., & Leutenegger, S., “Fully autonomous MAV flight and landing on a moving target using visual-inertial estimation and model-predictive control,” Journal of Field Robotics, Vol. 36, Issue 1, October 2018. 3. Meng, J., Buzzatto, J., Liu, Y., Liarokapis, M., “On Aerial Robots with Grasping and Perching Capabilities: A Comprehensive Review,” Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Vol. 8, 2022. 4. Hsaio, H., Sun, J., Zhang, H., Zhao, J., “A Mechanically Intelligent and Passive Gripper for Aerial Perching and Grasping,” IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol. 27, No. 6, December 2022. 5. Fiaz, U.A., Abdelkader, M., Shamma, J.S., “An Intelligent Gripper Design for Autonomous Aerial Transport with Passive Magnetic Grasping and Dual-Impulsive Release,” IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics, 2018. 6. Graule, M. A., Chirarattananon, P., Fuller, S. B., Jafferis, N. T., Ma, K. Y., Spenko, M., Kornbluh, R., Wood, R. J., “Perching and Takeoff of a Robotic Insect on Overhangs Using Switchable Electrostatic Adhesion,” Science, Vol 352 Issue 6288 pp. 978-982, May 2016. 7. Daler, L., Klaptocz, A., Briod, A., Sitti M., Floreano, D., “A Perching Mechanism for Flying Robots Using a Fibre-Based Adhesive,” IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2013. 8. Hang, K., Lyu, X., Song, H., Stork, J., Dollar, A., Kragic, D., Zhang, F., “Perching and resting—A paradigm for UAV maneuvering with modularized landing gears,” Science Robotics, Vol. 4 Issue 28, March 2019. 9. Zheng, P., Xiao, F., Nguyen, P.H., Farinha, A., Kovac, M., Metamorphic aerial robot capable of mid-air shape morphing for rapid perching. Scientific Reports 13, Article 1297, January 2023. 10. Zhang, H., Lerner, E., Cheng, B., Zhao, J., “Compliant Bistable Grippers Enable Passive Perching for Micro Aerial Vehicles,” IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol. 26, No. 5, October 2021. 11. Mellinger, D., Shomin, M., Kumar, V., “Control of Quadrotors for Robust Perching and Landing,” International Powered Lift Conference, Philadelphia, PA, October 2010. 12. Thomas, J., Pope, M., Giuseppe, L., Hawkes, E.W., Estrada, M.A., Jiang, H., Cutkosky, M.R., Kumar, V., “Aggressive Flight with Quadrotors for Perching on Inclined Surfaces,” Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, December 2015. 13. Habas, B., AlAttar, B., Davis, B., Langelaan, J.W., Cheng, B., “Optimal Inverted Landing in a Small Aerial Robot with Varied Approach Velocities and Landing Gear Designs,” International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Philadelphia, PA, May 2022. 14. Mao, J., Nogar, S., Kroninger, C., Giuseppe, L., “Robust Active Visual Perching with Quadrotors on Inclined Surfaces,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, February 2023. 15. Ben-Moshe, B., “Power Line Charging Mechanism for Drones,” Drones, October 2021. 16. Elkunchwar, N., Chandrasekaran, S., Iyer, V., Fuller, S.B., “Toward battery-free flight: Duty cycled recharging of small drones,” IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2021. KEYWORDS: UAV, multirotor, perching, autonomy, recharge, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government