Student: Nathaniel Kingry, Graduate Student in Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University
Faculty Advisor: Ran Dai
Mission Planning for Solar-Powered Robotic Networks
Unmanned vehicles have demonstrated particular aptitude over their manned counterparts in a variety of applications, such as surveillance and reconnaissance, sensing and mapping, and cargo hauling. However, these applications are typically defined by their prolonged operational times that cannot be met with current unmanned vehicles available. The solar-powered robotic networks (SPRN), which include multiple cooperative agents, developed in this work aim to increase mission flexibility and improve the operational performance of solar-powered robotic systems. The proposed SPRN will explore recent findings in swarming and unmanned ground vehicles and properties of state dependent networks to establish a connected network using solar-powered vehicles to complete a wide range of tasks. This work applies novel concepts, such as integrated renewable energy and autonomous control algorithms, to significantly extend the operation time and range of autonomous systems, especially for unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. Current findings show a single autonomous ground vehicle’s capabilities to potentially operate within an area persistently. Future work will extend previous work to multiple agents to allow for increased efficiency, larger operating areas, and mission flexibility.