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Autonomous Quadrotor Flight Despite Rotor Failure With Onboard Vision Sensors: Frames vs. Events


Sun, Sihao; Cioffi, Giovanni; de Visser, Coen; Scaramuzza, Davide (2022). Autonomous Quadrotor Flight Despite Rotor Failure With Onboard Vision Sensors: Frames vs. Events. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 6(2):580-587.

Abstract

Fault-tolerant control is crucial for safety-critical systems, such as quadrotors. State-of-art flight controllers can stabilize and control a quadrotor even when subjected to the complete loss of a rotor. However, these methods rely on external sensors, such as GPS or motion capture systems, for state estimation. To the best of our knowledge, this has not yet been achieved with only onboard sensors. In this letter, we propose the first algorithm that combines fault-tolerant control and onboard vision-based state estimation to achieve position control of a quadrotor subjected to complete failure of one rotor. Experimental validations show that our approach is able to accurately control the position of a quadrotor during a motor failure scenario, without the aid of any external sensors. The primary challenge to vision-based state estimation stems from the inevitable high-speed yaw rotation (over 20 rd/s) of the damaged quadrotor, causing motion blur to cameras, which is detrimental to visual inertial odometry (VIO). We compare two types of visual inputs to the vision-based state estimation algorithm: standard frames and events. Experimental results show the advantage of using an event camera especially in low light environments due to its inherent high dynamic range and high temporal resolution. We believe that our approach will render autonomous quadrotors safer in both GPS denied or degraded environments. We release both our controller and VIO algorithm open source.

Abstract

Fault-tolerant control is crucial for safety-critical systems, such as quadrotors. State-of-art flight controllers can stabilize and control a quadrotor even when subjected to the complete loss of a rotor. However, these methods rely on external sensors, such as GPS or motion capture systems, for state estimation. To the best of our knowledge, this has not yet been achieved with only onboard sensors. In this letter, we propose the first algorithm that combines fault-tolerant control and onboard vision-based state estimation to achieve position control of a quadrotor subjected to complete failure of one rotor. Experimental validations show that our approach is able to accurately control the position of a quadrotor during a motor failure scenario, without the aid of any external sensors. The primary challenge to vision-based state estimation stems from the inevitable high-speed yaw rotation (over 20 rd/s) of the damaged quadrotor, causing motion blur to cameras, which is detrimental to visual inertial odometry (VIO). We compare two types of visual inputs to the vision-based state estimation algorithm: standard frames and events. Experimental results show the advantage of using an event camera especially in low light environments due to its inherent high dynamic range and high temporal resolution. We believe that our approach will render autonomous quadrotors safer in both GPS denied or degraded environments. We release both our controller and VIO algorithm open source.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Control and Systems Engineering
Physical Sciences > Biomedical Engineering
Physical Sciences > Human-Computer Interaction
Physical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering
Physical Sciences > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
Physical Sciences > Computer Science Applications
Physical Sciences > Control and Optimization
Physical Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
Language:English
Date:2022
Deposited On:17 Feb 2022 09:32
Last Modified:28 Jan 2024 02:44
Publisher:Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN:2377-3766
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1109/LRA.2020.3048875
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:22154
  • Content: Accepted Version