Volume 23 Issue 4/5- Publication Date: 1 April-May 2004
Special Issue on the 8th International Symposium on Experimental Robotics (ISER ’02)
The Autonomous Blimp Project of LAAS-CNRS: Achievements in Flight Control and Terrain Mapping
E. Hygounenc, I.-K. Jung, P. Souères and S. Lacroix LAAS/CNRS, 7, av. du Colonel Roche, 31077 Toulouse Cedex 4, France

In this paper we provide a progress report of the LAAS-CNRS project of autonomous blimp robot development, in the context of field robotics. Hardware developments aimed at designing a generic and versatile experimental platform are first presented. On this base, the flight control and terrain mapping issues, which constitute the main thrust of the research work, are presented in two parts. The first part, devoted to the automatic control study, is based on a rigorous modeling of the airship dynamics. Considering the decoupling of the lateral and longitudinal dynamics, several flight phases are identified for which appropriate control strategies are proposed. The description focuses on the lateral steady navigation. In the second part of the paper, we present work on terrain mapping with lowaltitude stereovision. A simultaneous localization and map building approach based on an extended Kalman filter is depicted, with details on the identification of the various errors involved in the process. Experimental results show that positioning in the three-dimensional space with a centimeter accuracy can be achieved, thus allowing the possibility to build high-resolution digital elevation maps.

Multimedia Key
= Video = Data = Code = Image
Example One: A teleoperated flight of Karma. (3.0MB)

Example Two: Replay of a flight from GPS and attitude logged informations. (1.2MB)

Example Three: Illustration of our simultaneous localization and mapping approach. (9.8MB)
Example Four: Simulation of autonomous flight control. (5.1MB)
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