Title page for ETD etd-12122007-142004

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Culhane, Andrew Alan
Author's Email Address aculhane@vt.edu
URN etd-12122007-142004
Title Development of an Obstacle Detection System for Human Supervisory Control of a UAV in Urban Environments
Degree Master of Engineering
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kochersberger, Kevin Bruce Committee Chair
Crandall, Jacob Committee Member
Reinholtz, Charles F. Committee Member
Wicks, Alfred L. Committee Member
  • User Performance Evaluation
  • Obstacle Detection
  • Supervisory Control
  • UAV
Date of Defense 2007-12-04
Availability unrestricted
In order to operate UAVs under human supervisory control in more complex arenas such as urban environments, an obstacle detection system is a requirement to achieve safe navigation. The development of a system capable of meeting these requirements is presented. The first stage of development was sensor selection and initial testing. After this, the sensor was combined with a servomotor to allow it to rotate and provide obstacle detection coverage in front, below, and to both sides of the UAV. Utilizing a PC-104 single board computer running LabView Real-time for on-board control of the sensor and servomotor, a stand alone obstacle detection system was developed meeting the requirements of light weight, low power, and small size. The detection performance of the system for several parameters has been fully characterized. A human subjects study was conducted to assess the any advantages resulting from the addition of the obstacle detection system compared to that of a normal nadir camera. The study demonstrated that users with access to the three-dimensional display were able to navigate an obstacle course with greater success than those with only a camera. Additional development into more advanced visualization of the environment has potential to increase effectiveness of this obstacle detection system.
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