Laboratory Integration and Testing of the Field Communication, MAX, Swarm of MIN, Deployable IPS & Large scale mapping components & services of INGENIOUS (LIT#5 & LIT#14)
The Laboratory Integration Tests (LIT) are activities that shall help interaction among technical and non-technical partners to support the development of the various components.
The LIT#5 focused on activities concerning the:
- MINs, micro indoor drones developed by SINTEF
- MAX, aerial drone developed by FOI
- IPS, visual odometry system developed by DLR
- MCAS, fixed wind drone system developed by DLR
- The field communication system developed by ICCS
- The real-time situation awareness investigated by ITC
The LIT#5 took place virtually due to travel restrictions that in September 2020 were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was organised by SINTEF and, besides representatives of SINTEF, FOI, DLR, ICCS, ITC, present were also HRTA, ISAR, SBFF.
Each of the technical partners presented the development that happened until the LIT#5 days and performed some live demos that were shown during the virtual conference. In particular:
- SINTEF showed preliminary work concerning the use of micro drones (the MINs) for tracking a moving target.
- FOI showed preliminary flights capabilities of the MAX drone and preliminary development of the sensor payload.
- DLR showed some experiments that were conducted with the IPS and the MACS systems in the weeks before LIT#5.
The live demos and presentation stimulated interesting discussions among all the partners. The end-users provided precious feedback that was used to define the direction of the development of each component.
The organisation of a virtual LIT was not easy but all the partners were happy with the level of interaction that they obtained. The result is probably not comparable to the live sessions where all the partners could interact directly, touch the components, and have a more direct feeling of the physical systems. However, the live demos, the recorded experiments and the online presentations served well the purpose to stimulate interactions and shed the light on problems concerning the integration of the components. We need to remember that every single component of the INGENIOUS toolkit would have a limited impact taken by itself and only a proper integration will guarantee an impactful result.
2nd round of LITs
The purpose of the Laboratory Integration Test (LIT) is to integrate and test individual components according to a pre-defined validation plan within Ingenious. LIT #14 was conducted in the framework of the second round of Laboratory Integration Tests (LITs) and was a continuation of LIT#5. It was held remotely and we further tested and evaluated the five components being developed in WP3: Multi-purpose Autonomous eXploring drone (MAX), Micro Indoor droNe (MIN), Integrated Positioning System (IPS), fixed wing drone (MACS-SAR), and ground control station (GCS). When there is an attack in a public space with damaged buildings and trapped victims MACS-SAR first maps the target area and we build a common GNSS reference system. Then, MAX enters the building and maps the interior space. Afterwards, MIN enters the building and place some tags to build a mesh network. First Responders (FRs) finally enter with IPS system. All the smart devices are connected to a same network and GCS is a device to receive, process and forward data.
During the LIT, FOI demonstrated their customized MAX in details. They had mounted many different sensors such as IMU, visual camera, thermal camera on MAX. They also showed the reliable indoor flight ability of MAX. They introduced their exploration in drone autonomy (Figure 1) and the further work will be focused on motion planning. MAX is able to collect RGB images, and ITC process these images with GCS to generate high-level semantic information which is useful for FRs to find specific elements such as doors, windows, and trapped people (Figure2).
SINTEF had developed and showed preliminary swarm algorithms of MINs and localisation strategies to support the indoor localisation of FRs in GPS-denied environments (Figure 3). When a drone lands, it switches from “tag mode” to “beacon mode”, and it uses the ones already deployed to estimate its own position and sends back the position. The next steps will mainly focus on the improvement of the swarm algorithm and flight capabilities using sensor fusion.
DLR presented their new carrier and specifications of the camera module for MACS-SAR. They also showed the improved fast mapping approach, which is faster but needs less storage. A large-scale operational picture (LSOP) was generated and it was useful for making a rescue plan. DLR also presented the live navigation of IPS using the recorded dataset from last LIT#5. According to FRs’ feedback, they will focus on improving the accuracy of helmet-based IPS.
Because of Covid-19 this LIT could only be organized online. It was a pity that the end-users could not try the components by themselves. But our partners’ efforts and full preparation made this test very successful. End-users were also very positive about our components. We are carrying out a new round of development, and look forward to the next physical test.