Other affiliations: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Bio: Markus Hehn is an academic researcher from ETH Zurich. The author has contributed to research in topics: Trajectory & Vehicle dynamics. The author has an hindex of 23, co-authored 30 publications receiving 1927 citations. Previous affiliations of Markus Hehn include École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
TL;DR: A method is presented for the rapid generation and feasibility verification of motion primitives for quadrocopters and similar multirotor vehicles, and it is shown that a millionmotion primitives may be evaluated and compared per second on a standard laptop computer.
Abstract: A method is presented for the rapid generation and feasibility verification of motion primitives for quadrocopters and similar multirotor vehicles. The motion primitives are defined by the quadrocopter's initial state, the desired motion duration, and any combination of components of the quadrocopter's position, velocity, and acceleration at the motion's end. Closed-form solutions for the primitives are given, which minimize a cost function related to input aggressiveness. Computationally efficient tests are presented to allow for rapid feasibility verification. Conditions are given under which the existence of feasible primitives can be guaranteed a priori . The algorithm may be incorporated in a high-level trajectory generator, which can then rapidly search over a large number of motion primitives which would achieve some given high-level goal. It is shown that a million motion primitives may be evaluated and compared per second on a standard laptop computer. The motion primitive generation algorithm is experimentally demonstrated by tasking a quadrocopter with an attached net to catch a thrown ball, evaluating thousands of different possible motions to catch the ball.
TL;DR: The design and development of specific elements of the autonomous system behind this one-of-a-kind installation are documents and the process and challenges of bringing such a complex system out of the laboratory and into the public realm, where live demonstration and human-in-the-loop interaction demand high levels of robustness, dependability, and safety.
Abstract: The art installation Flight Assembled Architecture  is one of the first structures built by flying vehicles. Culminating in a 6-m-tall tower composed of 1500 foam modules (see Figures 1 and 2), the installation was assembled by four quadrocopters in 18 hours during a four-day-long live exhibition at the Fonds R?gional d'Art Contemporain (Regional Contemporary Art Fund) du Centre in Orl?ans, France. This article documents the design and development of specific elements of the autonomous system behind this one-of-a-kind installation and describes the process and challenges of bringing such a complex system out of the laboratory and into the public realm, where live demonstration and human-in-the-loop interaction demand high levels of robustness, dependability, and safety. The installation is a 1:100 scale model of what was originally conceived of as a 600 m-high vertical village (see "The Vertical Village" for details) and is an exploration of aerial construction in architecture. Architects have been exploring the use of digital technologies for the design and assembly of structures for some time now, and many facilities for investigating nonstandard architectural design and fabrication using industrial robots have sprung up in the past decade -. However, robot arms and computer numerical control (CNC) machines are limited by predefined working areas that constrain the size of the workpiece they can act upon and are thus also limited in their scale of action to a small portion or component of the overall structure, or to model-sized fabrication . In contrast, flying machines are not constrained by such tight boundaries. The space that flying machines can act upon is substantially larger than the size of the machines themselves, making it feasible for the machines to work on the structure as a whole at a 1:1 scale, thus offering architects a new framework for realizing their designs.
TL;DR: The architecture of the Arena is described from the viewpoint of system robustness and its capability as a dual-purpose research and demonstration platform.
Abstract: The Flying Machine Arena is a platform for experiments and demonstrations with fleets of small flying vehicles. It utilizes a distributed, modular architecture linked by robust communication layers. An estimation and control framework along with built-in system protection components enable prototyping of new control systems concepts and implementation of novel demonstrations. More recently, a mobile version has been featured at several eminent public events. We describe the architecture of the Arena from the viewpoint of system robustness and its capability as a dual-purpose research and demonstration platform.
TL;DR: In this paper, the translational degrees of freedom of the quadrotor are decoupled, and time-optimal trajectories are found for each degree of freedom separately.
Abstract: An algorithm is presented that allows the calculation of flight trajectories for quadrocopters. Trajectory feasibility constraints regarding the vehicle dynamics and input constraints are derived. They are then used in the planning algorithm to guarantee the feasibility of generated trajectories. The translational degrees of freedom of the quadrotor are decoupled, and time-optimal trajectories are found for each degree of freedom separately. The trajectory generation is fast enough to be performed online. Control inputs are calculated from the generated trajectory, and used to achieve closed-loop control similar to model predictive control. The trajectory generation and tracking performance is demonstrated in the ETH Zurich Flying Machine Arena testbed. Experimental results show good performance, with unmodeled aerodynamic effects causing trajectory deviations when decelerating from high speeds. Development potential for the future is highlighted, focusing on improving the performance and correcting for aerodynamic effects.
••09 May 2011
TL;DR: This work extends the classic control problem of the inverted pendulum by placing the pendulum on top of a quadrotor aerial vehicle, using a ‘Virtual Body Frame’ for the time-invariant description of curved trajectories.
Abstract: We extend the classic control problem of the inverted pendulum by placing the pendulum on top of a quadrotor aerial vehicle. Both static and dynamic equilibria of the system are investigated to find nominal states of the system at standstill and on circular trajectories. Control laws are designed around these nominal trajectories. A yaw-independent description of quadrotor dynamics is introduced, using a ‘Virtual Body Frame’. This allows for the time-invariant description of curved trajectories. The balancing performance of the controller is demonstrated in the ETH Zurich Flying Machine Arena testbed. Development potential for the future is highlighted, with a focus on applying learning methodology to increase performance by eliminating systematic errors that were seen in experiments.
TL;DR: This survey reports the characteristics and requirements of UAV networks for envisioned civil applications over the period 2000-2015 from a communications and networking viewpoint and elaborate on general networking related requirements such as connectivity, adaptability, safety, privacy, security, and scalability.
Abstract: The days where swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will occupy our skies are fast approaching due to the introduction of cost-efficient and reliable small aerial vehicles and the increasing demand for use of such vehicles in a plethora of civil applications. Governments and industry alike have been heavily investing in the development of UAVs. As such it is important to understand the characteristics of networks with UAVs to enable the incorporation of multiple, coordinated aerial vehicles into the air traffic in a reliable and safe manner. To this end, this survey reports the characteristics and requirements of UAV networks for envisioned civil applications over the period 2000–2015 from a communications and networking viewpoint. We survey and quantify quality-of-service requirements, network-relevant mission parameters, data requirements, and the minimum data to be transmitted over the network. Furthermore, we elaborate on general networking related requirements such as connectivity, adaptability, safety, privacy, security, and scalability. We also report experimental results from many projects and investigate the suitability of existing communication technologies for supporting reliable aerial networking.
TL;DR: This work identifies scientific and technological advances that are expected to translate, within appropriate regulatory frameworks, into pervasive use of autonomous drones for civilian applications.
Abstract: We are witnessing the advent of a new era of robots - drones - that can autonomously fly in natural and man-made environments. These robots, often associated with defence applications, could have a major impact on civilian tasks, including transportation, communication, agriculture, disaster mitigation and environment preservation. Autonomous flight in confined spaces presents great scientific and technical challenges owing to the energetic cost of staying airborne and to the perceptual intelligence required to negotiate complex environments. We identify scientific and technological advances that are expected to translate, within appropriate regulatory frameworks, into pervasive use of autonomous drones for civilian applications.
••01 Apr 2016
TL;DR: This work presents a method of jointly optimizing polynomial path segments in an unconstrained quadratic program that is numerically stable for high-order polynomials and large numbers of segments, and is easily formulated for efficient sparse computation.
Abstract: We explore the challenges of planning trajectories for quadrotors through cluttered indoor environments. We extend the existing work on polynomial trajectory generation by presenting a method of jointly optimizing polynomial path segments in an unconstrained quadratic program that is numerically stable for high-order polynomials and large numbers of segments, and is easily formulated for efficient sparse computation. We also present a technique for automatically selecting the amount of time allocated to each segment, and hence the quadrotor speeds along the path, as a function of a single parameter determining aggressiveness, subject to actuator constraints. The use of polynomial trajectories, coupled with the differentially flat representation of the quadrotor, eliminates the need for computationally intensive sampling and simulation in the high dimensional state space of the vehicle during motion planning. Our approach generates high-quality trajecrtories much faster than purely sampling-based optimal kinodynamic planning methods, but sacrifices the guarantee of asymptotic convergence to the global optimum that those methods provide. We demonstrate the performance of our algorithm by efficiently generating trajectories through challenging indoor spaces and successfully traversing them at speeds up to 8 m/s. A demonstration of our algorithm and flight performance is available at: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/rrg/quad_polynomial_trajectory_planning.
••26 May 2015
TL;DR: A novel, deeply embedded robotics middleware and programming environment that uses a multithreaded, publish-subscribe design pattern and provides a Unix-like software interface for micro controller applications, which is well suited for fast, high rate control tasks.
Abstract: We present a novel, deeply embedded robotics middleware and programming environment. It uses a multithreaded, publish-subscribe design pattern and provides a Unix-like software interface for micro controller applications. We improve over the state of the art in deeply embedded open source systems by providing a modular and standards-oriented platform. Our system architecture is centered around a publish-subscribe object request broker on top of a POSIX application programming interface. This allows to reuse common Unix knowledge and experience, including a bash-like shell. We demonstrate with a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) use case that the system modularity is well suited for novel and experimental vehicle platforms. We also show how the system architecture allows a direct interface to ROS and to run individual processes either as native ROS nodes on Linux or nodes on the micro controller, maximizing interoperability. Our microcontroller-based execution environment has substantially lower latency and better hardware connectivity than a typical Robotics Linux system and is therefore well suited for fast, high rate control tasks.