Aerial robotics is a fast-growing field of robotics and in particular multi-rotor aircraft, like quadrotors, are rapidly
increasing in popularity also out of the scientific community. However, designing autopilots for UAVs (Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles) is a challenging task, which involves multiple interconnected aspects. Therefore, having tools
able to show what it happens when some new applications are going to be developed in unknown or critical situations
is more and more important.
Simulation is one of such helpful tools, widely used in robotics, enabling not only to verify the components integration and to evaluate their behavior under different circumstances but also to simplify the development and validation processes. Furthermore, simulation is cheaper than experiments with real robots, in terms of time and human resources: it makes possible simulating multiple robots when the hardware may not be available and getting a better understanding of implemented methods under various conditions.
The aim of my research is to illustrate how the software-in-the-loop (SIL) methodology allows to detect and manage instabilities of
a quadrotor control system that otherwise might not arise when considering only MATLAB/Simulink simulations. The use of the SIL technique
allows to understand the behavior of the flight control system by comparing and evaluating different scenarios, with a details level
quite close to reality. At the same time, it is possible to discover issues that a model-inthe-loop (MIL) simulation does not necessarily
detect, even if carried out through a multi-physics co-simulation approach.
The research proposes a co-design approach based on SIL methodologies for performance evaluation, designing and developing algorithms for autonomous systems. The simulation scheme consists of specific middleware, namely ROS (Robot Operating System), where one node or computer simulates the control unit (e.g., MATLAB/Simulink equipped with Robotics System Toolbox), and another one the vehicles in the scenario (sensor models and obstacles are simulated, too), through 3D simulation environments (e.g., Gazebo, V-REP, AirSim, MORSE, Webots), with the aim of implementing the overall control system together with the flight dynamics and the environment.
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