Description: As science and technology continue to advance, innovative developments in transportation can enhance product safety and security for the benefit and welfare of society. The federal government requires every commercial truck to be inspected before each trip. This pre-trip inspection ensures the safe mechanical condition of each vehicle before it is used. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) could be used to provide an automated inspection, thus reducing driver workload, inspection costs and time while increasing inspection accuracy. This thesis develops a primary component of the algorithm that is required to implement UAV pre-trip inspections for commercial trucks using an android-based application. Specifically, this thesis provides foundational work of providing stable height control in an outdoor environment using a laser sensor and an android flight control application that includes take-off, landing, throttle control, and real-time video transmission. The height algorithm developed is the core of this thesis project. Phantom 2 Vision+ uses a pressure sensor to calculate the altitude of the drone for height stabilization. However, these altitude readings do not provide the precision required for this project. Rather, the goal of autonomously controlling height with great precision necessitated the use of a laser rangefinder sensor in the development of the height control algorithm. Another major contribution from this thesis research is to extend the limited capabilities of the DJI software development kit in order to provide more sophisticated control goals without modifying the drone dynamics. The results of this project are also directly applicable to a number of additional uses of drones in the transportation industry.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Srinivasan K, Venkatesh