Design and Integration of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle into the USAL architecture
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
The ICARUS research group activities at Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) are aimed at the automation and development of on-board avionics and ground systems, supporting both manned and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Accordingly, they have developed a modular and reconfigurable architecture called USAL, which provides flexibility and reduces development costs of UAS missions. At this moment, they are planning to go from their simulated environments (ISIS+) to real UAS scenarios, being this the starting point of this Master Thesis. Within the abovementioned context, the composition of this document is targeted to provide a reliable and safe test bed platform for the ICARUS USAL architecture, in such a way that they could perform extensive testing of all their systems in a regular basis. Because of its strong similarities with Unmanned Aircrafts (UAs), the approach of developing an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) has been proposed, being an intermediate step between the simulated scenario and an eventual UA. To be started, the alternatives for the test bed platform have been analysed, taking into account factors like safety, time, costs, and simplicity. By using low-cost components we have been able to set up a simple UGV platform, thus fulfilling the initial requirements of a UA simplification. Once we had the UGV, we performed its integration into the USAL architecture, managing the autopilot through the ICARUS ground stations. To do so, extensive testing has been carried out with an intermediate solution, ensuring robustness of the final development. As the final step for the test bed platform, the creation of a completely autonomous vehicle was also necessary. Therefore, we designed a real, flexible, and exchangeable "Air Segment" for our UGV, providing reusability and portability to any type of vehicle. Additionally, apart from the development of the UGV, we addressed the implementation of a reliable communications system, which will operate between the ground station and the vehicle. In this sense, we have developed a new protocol for the USAL architecture, endowing it with enhanced Quality of Service (QoS). As well as in all stages of this thesis, real tests have helped us to ensure the correct behaviour of our solution, analysing in this case the different radio devices. And finally, as the primary objective was to build a test bed platform, we performed as much tests as we could of the USAL architecture. By doing so we not only proved our solution fulfilled the USAL testing requirements, but also allowed us to extract different diagnostics and conclusions of the ICARUS USAL architecture.