Project summary

Our project consisted in making a self-stabilized quad-copter.

The global idea is to make a drone which can be either remote controlled with a radio command or an android smartphone, or self-controlled using an Inertial Measurement Unit and GPS coordinates. The drone must also be able to communicate its sensors' data so its state can be seen in real time in a simulator through Wi-Fi communication.

This project was already started in previous years, but the lack of usable code as well as the poor state of the existing drone forced us to restart everything from scratch after making a complete and exhaustive analysis of the state of the existing project.

We decided to use an ArduPilot Mega, a microcontroller based on Arduino Mega, with embedded IMU, magnetometers, GPS, and I/O pins to control the motors and the radio command. But its Atmel chip wasn't powerful enough to process the calculations needed, so we chose the Renesas RX62T as an embedded chip to perform these calculations. The idea was to start coding everything on the Arduino, then to move it step by step on the RX, so it would force us to do generic code which could be used with any microcontroller and any peripheral.

Each of us four had a dedicate task: Benjamin had to find algorithms in order to stabilize the drone, Pierre worked with the ArduPilot to create the code to use the RC, the motors and the sensors, Axel defined protocols for communication between the drone and its peripherals (simulator, Android remote control…) and Nicolas had to create a configuration for the Wi-Fi chip and start coding with the new RX62.

We encountered various difficulties, mostly due to the material aspect of our project : our syllabus deals with coding, including coding for embedded systems, but we don’t have any electronics lectures, so we weren’t able to solve the problem we were confronted to, or even find them. Moreover, the stabilization part requires advanced knowledge in certain fields of mathematics and physics we didn’t have, so we based our work on some PhDs’ and Masters’ theses.

At this date, we have reached some our goals, but several electronics issues prevent us from finishing this project. So far, our achievements are the stabilization of the new drone using the ArduPilot, some basic communication code executed on the embedded RX62T, and an efficient configuration for the Wi-Fi module.

We strongly recommend continuing this project next year as we took care into making an efficient and clear code. We also documented our work and researches as we had at heart to provide an easy to maintain and improve project.

Dernière mise à jour : 24/03/2013 22h02
Auteur : Nicolas COSNARD