Journal article Open Access

Kinodynamic planning for an energy-efficient autonomous ornithopter

Rodríguez, Fabio; Díaz-Báñez, José Miguel; Sanchez-Laulhe, Ernesto; Capitán, Jesús; Ollero, Anibal

This paper presents a novel algorithm to plan energy-efficient trajectories for autonomous ornithopters. In general, trajectory optimization is quite a relevant problem for practical applications with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Even though the problem has been well studied for fixed and rotatory-wing vehicles, there are far fewer works exploring it for flapping-wing UAVs, like ornithopters. These are of interest for many applications where long-flight endurance, but also hovering capabilities, are required.
We propose an efficient approach to plan ornithopter trajectories that minimize energy consumption by combining gliding and flapping maneuvers. Our algorithm builds a tree of dynamically feasible trajectories and it applies heuristic search for efficient online
planning, using reference curves to guide the search and prune states. We present computational experiments to analyze and tune the key parameters, as well as a comparison against a recent alternative probabilistic planner, showing best performance. Finally, we demonstrate how our algorithm can be used for planning perching maneuvers online.

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