Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Aug 6 08:05:23 PDT 2004

Kindly ignore absence of Hellfire periphery and (worse)
the M$ marketing waffle below:


Unmanned Flight with Windows XP Embedded
by Suzanne Ross
Project Specs:
On-board Technoland PC/104+ form factor
800MHz Crusoe computer
USB to serial device provides 4 additional RS232 communication ports
Microsoft Windows XP Embedded

Kids who graduated from balsa wood bi-planes to radio-controlled airplanes
will love what's coming around the corner.

Faculty and students at Cornell University have built an unmanned airplane
with its own on-board, embedded control system. The large-scale model plane
flies by accessing coordinates from an off-the-shelf GPS unit.

"The plane is capable of GPS guided flight, surveillance, and is very
modular," said Kevin Kornegay, one of the faculty advisors for the project.

Last year, the group won an Innovation Excellence Award from Microsoft
Research to continue their previous work in designing an autopilot system for
a large scale model aircraft. Schools around the globe received awards from
the Microsoft Research University Relations program to enable them to conduct
research in emerging technologies.

"Our previous design represented a very early prototype for an autonomous
aircraft. The autopilot system was extremely heavy, it lacked software
functionality, but it was a strong version one," said Kornegay.

This year the system is based on a PC/104 form factor Windows XP Embedded
computer and has a variety of navigational sensors.

"The software is written in C#, and is broken into four large applications.
The autopilot software resides on the airplane and allows the plane to fly
complete missions without any assistance from the ground. The plane also has
wireless modems, which it uses to relay telemetry to the ground, and to allow
for updated mission guidelines," explains Kornegay.

The client software is written to display telemetry to the end user, for
instance, where the plane is on a map or how fast it is traveling. The group
developed two applications, one for a laptop or desktop computer, and one for
a Pocket PC. Students monitored the airplane's flight from the Pocket PC

The students entered the resulting prototype in the second annual Association
for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI) student competition. In 2003, they
placed first in the contest. This year, however, they lost most of their
equipment in a fire just before the competition. "We still gave our software
demonstration though, allowing us to place 'best of teams that didn't fly,"
said Kornegay.

The mission for the competition requires the plane to take off manually or
autonomously, then autonomously navigate a course with five to ten GPS
waypoints while using an onboard video or camera system to locate a series of
man-made objects on the ground.

Each team has 30 minutes of flight time to complete their mission. The planes
will be judged on time, aircraft cost and weight, navigation accuracy,
efficiency, safety and ability to locate the objects.
Cornell Student Team
Karl Schulze
Andrew Abramson
Brian Rogan
Ron Hose
Jonathon Kron
Aaron Kimball
Joe Sullivan
Will Aber

To test their flight control algorithms, the group used Microsoft Flight
Simulator 2004, running the algorithms for hundreds of hours. They used a SIG
Rascal aircraft with a 110" wingspan. The aircraft is 75 >" long and weighs
thirteen pounds.

The students modified the vehicle for unmanned flight by replacing the
factory tail with a custom lifting tail, which moved the center of gravity
further towards the rear of the plane. They also installed large in-wing
flaps because the wings on the airframe had a heavier than designed for load.
The in-wing flaps allowed a slower stall speed and improved takeoff and

The system runs off two 512 MB compact flash cards, which provides a storage
system with no moving parts able to withstand up to 10,000 Gs. One compact
flash card holds the operating system in a protected write mode, while the
other stores a real-time flight log - a 'black box' that can be examined to
diagnose problems, even if the vehicle crashes.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144            http://www.leitl.org
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
http://moleculardevices.org         http://nanomachines.net

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