Special Issue "Fundamental and Applied Research in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology"

A special issue of Drones (ISSN 2504-446X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luis Rodolfo Garcia Carrillo
Website
Guest Editor
School of Engineering & Computing Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
Interests: control systems; multi-agent systems; intelligent control; Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS); and the use of vision in feedback control
Dr. Pablo Rangel
Website
Guest Editor
School of Engineering & Computing Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
Interests: sensor fusion; Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS); cyber-physical systems; multiagents; biomechatronics; and cybersecurity
Dr. Jose Ernesto Gomez Balderas
Website
Guest Editor
GIPSA-LAB UMR 5216 CNRS – Université Grenoble Alpes, 38402 Saint Martin d'Hères, FRANCE
Interests: UAV navigation, and perception; teleoperation ; embedded vision
Dr. Eduardo Steed Espinoza Quesada
Website
Guest Editor
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Ciudad de México, 07360, México
Interests: UAS for Search and Rescue Applications, Heavy-lift cargo UAS, Nonlinear control, Adaptive Control and Algorithms for Multi-Agent Systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) represents a rich and complex combination of fundamental research and applied real-time solutions. Researchers from different domains are proposing and demonstrating new and versatile ways to develop UAS that can become worthwhile and applicable in our modern and complex society. Critical infrastructure inspection and repair, parcel delivery, film and photography in the entertainment domain, as well as wireless information relays, among others, are some of the areas of UAS research development. These previous examples require novel estimation, control, and multi-agent coordination techniques with a solid theoretical background, but at the same time with a computational complexity that allows them to be implemented in a realistic mission.

In this Special Issue our goal is to bring together key researchers in this area to provide the readership of Drones with up-to-date and survey-style papers on fundamental and applied research perspectives on the state-of-the-art in this exciting field. In general, it seeks to collect innovative works on the estimation, control, and coordination of multiple UAS. Specific solutions addressing novel approaches for sensor fusion, GPS-denied navigation, power alternative/efficient systems, computer vision-based solutions, platforms with increased safety measures, as well as cyber-security are also of great interest. Submissions of comprehensive overviews of UAS-related research, with a particular focus on applications are also of interest to the Drones community and are highly encouraged. Please contact the Guest Editors if you have any questions about whether your proposed article would fit the scope of this Special Issue.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Unmanned aircraft systems
  • estimation
  • control
  • multi-UAS coordination
  • sensor fusion
  • navigation
  • perception
  • mechatronics
  • load transportation
  • power alternative/efficient systems
  • computer vision-inspired solutions
  • safety measures
  • cyber-security


Dr. Luis Rodolfo Garcia Carrillo
Dr. Pablo Rangel
Dr. Jose Ernesto Gomez Balderas
Dr. Eduardo Steed Espinoza Quesada
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Drones is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • • Unmanned aircraft systems • estimation • control • coordination • sensor fusion • navigation • power alternative/efficient systems • computer vision • safety measures • cyber-security

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Adaptive Water Sampling Device for Aerial Robots
Drones 2020, 4(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4010005 - 06 Feb 2020
Abstract
Water quality monitoring and predicting the changes in water characteristics require the collection of water samples in a timely manner. Water sample collection based on in situ measurable water quality indicators can increase the efficiency and precision of data collection while reducing the [...] Read more.
Water quality monitoring and predicting the changes in water characteristics require the collection of water samples in a timely manner. Water sample collection based on in situ measurable water quality indicators can increase the efficiency and precision of data collection while reducing the cost of laboratory analyses. The objective of this research was to develop an adaptive water sampling device for an aerial robot and demonstrate the accuracy of its functions in laboratory and field conditions. The prototype device consisted of a sensor node with dissolved oxygen, pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, turbidity, and depth sensors, a microcontroller, and a sampler with three cartridges. Activation of water capturing cartridges was based on in situ measurements from the sensor node. The activation mechanism of the prototype device was tested with standard solutions in the laboratory and with autonomous water sampling flights over the 11-ha section of a lake. A total of seven sampling locations were selected based on a grid system. Each cartridge collected 130 mL of water samples at a 3.5 m depth. Mean water quality parameters were measured as 8.47 mg/L of dissolved oxygen, pH of 5.34, 7 µS/cm of electrical conductivity, temperature of 18 °C, and 37 Formazin Nephelometric Unit (FNU) of turbidity. The dissolved oxygen was within allowable limits that were pre-set in the self-activation computer program while the pH, electrical conductivity, and temperature were outside of allowable limits that were specified by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Therefore, the activation mechanism of the device was triggered and water samples were collected from all the sampling locations successfully. The adaptive water sampling with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-assisted water sampling device was proved to be a successful method for water quality evaluation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Sensor Assessment of the Effects of Varying Processing Parameters on UAS Product Accuracy and Quality
Drones 2019, 3(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3030063 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
There is a growing demand for the collection of ultra-high spatial resolution imagery using unmanned aerial systems (UASs). UASs are a cost-effective solution for data collection on small scales and can fly at much lower altitudes, thus yielding spatial resolutions not previously achievable [...] Read more.
There is a growing demand for the collection of ultra-high spatial resolution imagery using unmanned aerial systems (UASs). UASs are a cost-effective solution for data collection on small scales and can fly at much lower altitudes, thus yielding spatial resolutions not previously achievable with manned aircraft or satellites. The use of commercially available software for image processing has also become commonplace due to the relative ease at which imagery can be processed and the minimal knowledge of traditional photogrammetric processes required by users. Commercially available software such as AgiSoft Photoscan and Pix4Dmapper Pro are capable of generating the high-quality data that are in demand for environmental remote sensing applications. We quantitatively assess the implications of processing parameter decision-making on UAS product accuracy and quality for orthomosaic and digital surface models for RGB and multispectral imagery. We iterated 40 processing workflows by incrementally varying two key processing parameters in Pix4Dmapper Pro, and conclude that maximizing for the highest intermediate parameters may not always translate into effective final products. We also show that multispectral imagery can effectively be leveraged to derive three-dimensional models of higher quality despite the lower resolution of sensors when compared to RGB imagery, reducing time in the field and the need for multiple flights over the same area when collecting multispectral data is a priority. We conclude that when users plan to use the highest processing parameter values, to ensure quality end-products it is important to increase initial flight coverage in advance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sun Tracking Technique Applied to a Solar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Drones 2019, 3(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3020051 - 22 Jun 2019
Abstract
In recent years, solar energy has been used as an energy source for many different applications. Currently in the area of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), there are research studies that incorporate this renewable energy technology to increase the vehicle’s autonomy. This technique also [...] Read more.
In recent years, solar energy has been used as an energy source for many different applications. Currently in the area of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), there are research studies that incorporate this renewable energy technology to increase the vehicle’s autonomy. This technique also needs particular construction techniques and electronic boards, designed to reduce weight and increase the efficiency of all solar systems on board the UAV. As is well known, the amount of generated solar energy could be increased throughout a day a sun tracking technique is added. The present paper proves that the roll angle of a fixed wing UAV can be used to track the sun to increase the energy generated by the solar panels placed on the wing. In that case, the plane’s attitude must be compensated with the yaw angle control to be able to perform a photogrammetric mission. This will be achieved using a control strategy based on the super-twisting technique that ensures convergence in finite time even in the presence of bounded perturbations. The design of the control laws as well as the numerical simulation and real flight results are shown to validate the use of the sun tracking system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Lightweight, Robust Exploitation System for Temporal Stacks of UAS Data: Use Case for Forward-Deployed Military or Emergency Responders
Drones 2019, 3(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3010029 - 22 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The availability and precision of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) permit the repeated collection of very-high quality three-dimensional (3D) data to monitor high-interest areas, such as dams, urban areas, or erosion-prone coastlines. However, challenges exist in the temporal analysis of this data, specifically in [...] Read more.
The availability and precision of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) permit the repeated collection of very-high quality three-dimensional (3D) data to monitor high-interest areas, such as dams, urban areas, or erosion-prone coastlines. However, challenges exist in the temporal analysis of this data, specifically in conducting change-detection analysis on the high-quality point cloud data. These files are very large in size and contain points in varying locations that do not align between scenes. These large file sizes also limit the use of this data for individuals with low computational resources, such as first responders or forward-deployed soldiers. In response, this manuscript presents an approach that aggregates data spatially into voxels to provide the user with a lightweight, web-based exploitation system coupled with a flexible backend database. The system creates a robust set of tools to analyze large temporal stacks of 3D data and reduces data size by 78%, all while being able to query the original point cloud data. This approach offers a solution for organizations analyzing high-resolution, temporal point-clouds, as well as a possible solution for operations in areas with poor computational and connectivity resources requiring high-quality, 3D data for decision support and planning. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Review: Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as Mobile Sensing Platforms (MSPs) for Disaster Response, Civil Security and Public Safety
Drones 2019, 3(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3030059 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
The use of UAVs in areas ranging from agriculture over urban services to entertainment or simply as a hobby has rapidly grown over the last years. Regarding serious/commercial applications, UAVs have been considered in the literature, especially as mobile sensing/actuation platforms (i.e., as [...] Read more.
The use of UAVs in areas ranging from agriculture over urban services to entertainment or simply as a hobby has rapidly grown over the last years. Regarding serious/commercial applications, UAVs have been considered in the literature, especially as mobile sensing/actuation platforms (i.e., as a delivery platform for an increasingly wide range of sensors and actuators). With regard to timely, cost-effective and very rich data acquisition, both, NEC Research as well as TNO are pursuing investigations into the use of UAVs and swarms of UAVs for scenarios where high-resolution requirements, prohibiting environments or tight time constraints render traditional approaches ineffective. In this review article, we provide a brief overview of safety and security-focused application areas that we identified as main targets for industrial and commercial projects, especially in the context of intelligent autonomous systems and autonomous/semi-autonomously operating swarms. We discuss a number of challenges related to the deployment of UAVs in general and to their deployment within the identified application areas in particular. As such, this article is meant to serve as a review and overview of the literature and the state-of-the-art, but also to offer an outlook over our possible (near-term) future work and the challenges that we will face there. Full article
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