This document presents a one-year proposal for a Sabbatic program of Prof. Dr. Ely Carneiro de Paiva (FEM-UNICAMP) at University of Concordia, Montreal, Canada, aiming the development of guidance and path planning strategies for an autonomous robotic airship focused on environmental applications in Amazonia, Brazil.This research project is related to Thematic Project Fapesp-CNPq "INSAC-INCT in Applied Cooperative Autonomous Systems" (FAPESP 2014/50851-0 and CNPq 465755/2014-3), and is also linked with two other funded projects: The DRONI Airship Project (CNPq CT-Aeronáutico 2014-2016) and the SAS-ROGE Fapesp-Sprint international cooperation project with the Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland (FAPESP n. 2016/50001-0), coordinated by Prof. Ely Paiva. Therefore, this proposal is inserted in a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary network composed by different research institutions, including UNICAMP, the Center for Information Technology Renato Archer - CTI (that coordinates the DRONI airship project - "Dirigível Robótico de Concepção Inovadora"), USP, UFRJ, UFMG, UFAM and the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) from Lisbon, Portugal.This research work has two main goals. The first one is to develop a path planner for the generation of specific desired trajectories for an autonomous electrical 4-propeller airship (DRONI), under strong wind perturbations. The second goal is to develop a guidance control approach, based on nonlinear control techniques, which allows the autonomous airship to follow the given trajectories, despite underactuation constraints. As a result of this work, it is expected that the guidance/navigation system developed will allow the robotic airship to move autonomously along a given set of waypoints in 3D coordinates, including eventual hovering flight and path/trajectory tracking.This work will be developed at Concordia University, Canada, where we expect to take advantage of the expertise of Prof. Dr. Luis Rodrigues and his research group in the thematics of Avionics, Flight Control and Flight Management Systems (FMS). The investigations in FMS focusing on guidance/planning is a gap in the airship projects of the Brazilian-Portuguese research team that evolved mainly in the low level control developments (autopilot) in the last years.The expected contribution of this work is the development of the main components of a robust Flight Management System for an autonomous robotic airship, aiming the execution of a complete airship mission including vertical take-off, hovering, cruise and landing flight phases, under real underactuation constraints and strong wind perturbations.In addition, it is important to remark that the results obtained in this research are not restricted to the robotic airship case. They shall also be adapted and extended to other kinds of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) like the "drones" or quadcopters (as those used by the partners in USP and UFMG), whose growing applications for agricultural purposes in Brazil are creating a new market with an evolving field for technological/research investigations.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: