Autonomous operations of small unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs (quadrotors), require safety modules to alert a human operator of a critical system state, or even take over control of the vehicle entirely to initiate a pre-defined safety maneuver during an emergency (e.g. an emergency landing when a radio link is lost). This is especially important when operating close to the ground, where safe maneuvering around obstacles is a major challenge (e.g. flight through vegetation), and the operator might not see the vehicle at all times. A system health and telemetry monitoring module onboard the micro air vehicle has been developed to monitor critical system components and transmit system health data to a human operator via a base station computer.
The safety system consists of two parts. The first part is a system monitor that runs on the quadrotor UAV flight computer to analyze system health. If a critical state is detected, the module triggers a safety alert to initiate emergency behaviors like hover in place or emergency landing.
The second part is a monitoring module on a base station computer that receives live data from a quadrotor UAV about its internal states (battery level, flight status, planned behavior, etc.) via a wireless link. The module has to monitor and analyze the incoming data and make emergency notifications to the operator if a critical event occurs (e.g. battery power is bellow critical threshold, or the vehicle has exceeded its pre-programmed maximum range).
System health monitoring to simultaneously alert human operators and trigger onboard emergency maneuvers is critical for safe flight of autonomous aerial systems, including small UAVs or spacecraft.