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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR AUTOMATED POSITIONING OF AN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE UPON A LANDING PLATFORM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/042238
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The purpose of the invention is to create a device and a method to allow for automated positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle on a landing platform. The device comprises of a landing platform with a landing base and a landing surface which is connected to a vibration generating device either fully or in part. The unmanned aerial vehicle, landed on the landing base, is positioned to the desired location and position on it by vibration. Sensors of the landing base are used to detect the location and position of the unmanned aerial vehicle with respect to the desired location on the landing base.

Inventors:
VAHER, Tõnu (Untaugu 8, Neeme Küla, Jõelähtme vald, 74226, EE)
HAGGI, Toomas (Paasiku 4-301, Tallinn, 13916, EE)
PALM, Jaan (Lodjapuu tee 14-1, Karla küla, Rae vald, 75326, EE)
LEOMAR, Priit (Toominga tee 4, Haljava küla, Jõelähtme vald, 75224, EE)
Application Number:
IB2017/000599
Publication Date:
March 08, 2018
Filing Date:
May 19, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
OSAÜHING ELI (Haljas tee 25, Tallinn, 12012, EE)
International Classes:
B64F1/00; B64F1/12; B64F1/22
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012064891A22012-05-18
WO2015108588A22015-07-23
WO2015108588A22015-07-23
WO2015117216A12015-08-13
Foreign References:
CN204250382U2015-04-08
CN204568057U2015-08-19
US20150183528A12015-07-02
Other References:
TUNA TOKSOZ, JOSHUA REDDINGY, MATTHEW MICHINIZ BERNARD MICHINIX, JONATHAN P. HOW: "Automated Battery Swap and Recharge to Enable Persistent UAV Missions", - 2011, pages 1 - 10, Retrieved from the Internet
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KOITEL, Raivo (Koitel Patent & Trademark Agency, PO Box 1759, Tallinn, 10101, EE)
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Claims:
Claims

1. Device for automated positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle on a landing platform (1), which comprises a landing base (2) with a landing surface, markers to allow for initial positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle on the landing base (2), sensors to measure the parameters of an unmanned aerial vehicle and one or several communication system(s) to allow for information exchange with the unmanned aerial vehicle; the device is characterised by that it comprises a device to generate vibration (3) to affect at least one of the surfaces or a part of the surface of the landing base (2) and that the vibration generating device (3) is fitted with a control device.

2. Device accordingly to claim 1 characterised by that it includes a controller to operate the vibration generating device (3).

3. Device accordingly to claims 1 and 2 characterised by that the information gathered by means of sensors and communication systems of the device can be used to set and adjust the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3).

4. Device accordingly to claims 1 to 3 characterised by that one or several operating parameters of the vibration generating device (3) can be set and adjusted.

5. Device accordingly to claim 4 characterised by that the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3) can be set and adjusted automatically according to the measured pre-set parameters of an unmanned aerial vehicle.

6. Device accordingly to claim 4 characterised by that the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3) can be set and adjusted during it's operating cycle.

7. Device accordingly to claims 1 to 6 characterised by that the operating parameters of (3) comprise at least vibration frequency and amplitude of vibration and movement geometry of the surface of the landing base (2).

8. Method for automated positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle on landing platform (1), using a device accordingly to claims 1 to 7 characterised by comprising the following steps: unmanned aerial vehicle is landed on the landing base (2); vibration generating device (3) of the landing base (2) is switched on; vibration is engaged to position the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base (2) by moving it along the surface of the landing base (2); sensors of the landing base (2) identify the location of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base (2); optionally the vibration generating device (3) of the landing base (2) is switched off; one or several automated maintenance procedure(s) will be carried out on the unmanned aerial vehicle, including also, where appropriate, one or several communication session(s) between the aerial vehicle and the landing base (2) and the landing base (2) and the central system.

9. Method accordingly to claim 8 characterised by that it comprises a step to allow to set and adjust on or more operating parameter(s) of the vibration generating device (3).

10. Method accordingly to claim 9 characterised by that the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3) are set and adjusted automatically according to the measured pre-set parameters of an unmanned aerial vehicle.

11. Method accordingly to claim 9 characterised by that the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3) are set and adjusted during its operating cycle.

12. Method accordingly to claims 8 to 11 characterised by that the adjustment of the operating parameters of (3) includes at least adjustment of vibration frequency and amplitude of vibration and movement geometry of the surface of the landing base (2).

13. Method accordingly to claims 8 to 12 characterised by that information gathered by means of sensors and communication systems of the device is used to set and adjust the operating parameters of vibration generating device (3).

14. Method accordingly to claims 8 to 13 characterised by that a maintenance procedure of an unmanned aerial vehicle is carried out by automated means.

15. Method according to claims 8 to 13 characterised by that a maintenance procedure of an unmanned aerial vehicle is carried out by manual means.

Description:
Device and method for automated positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle upon a landing platform

Technical field

The invention belongs to the technical field of unmanned aerial vehicles, which deals with the positioning of aerial vehicles upon landing platform.

Prior art

Various automated unmanned aerial vehicles, which may be of single or repeated use, are known from prior art, whereby the latter take off and land usually in the same place, or in location directed by operator or defined earlier. Unmanned aerial vehicles are characterised by limited flight time, the length of which is determined by the amount of energy, e.g. battery or some other source of energy, fitted into the unmanned aerial vehicle. As batteries discharge, unmanned aerial vehicle will be required to land or have is battery replaced, which is usually done manually by the operator of unmanned aerial vehicle. By involving GPS systems, unmanned aerial vehicle can land with accuracy ranging around two metres. Accurate landing systems, known to persons skilled in the art, can ensure the landing accuracy of around 20 cm through 40 cm for unmanned aerial vehicles, which is still insufficient to perform the required automated procedure (replacement of batteries, charging batteries, maintenance and monitoring of systems).

A technical solution, the closest to the invention concerned, is a solution described in article ..Automated Battery Swap and Recharge to Enable Persistent UAV Missions" (MIT, 2011 ; URL: http://acl.mit.edu/papers/infotech-recharge-2011.pdf) for automated replacement of batteries in unmanned aerial vehicles. Use of the solution assumes accurate placement of the unmanned aerial vehicle on the landing base. According to the solution concerned, automated replacement of batteries and also automated charging of battery will take place after the landing of the unmanned aerial vehicle. Solution includes the use of eight replacement batteries, whereas the system will allow the performance of replacement of batteries in permanently energised condition. The solution also includes a charging base with a landing base, with edges that are bent upwards to allow the unmanned aerial vehicle, propelled by gravity, to move as close to the centre of the landing platform as possible. The bottom of the landing base is fitted with a sensor, which is used to identify the desired position of the unmanned aerial vehicles upon landing. Two levers will be engaged to fix the unmanned aerial vehicle, located on landing base, to the landing base.

Unmanned aerial vehicles and their landing bases, involving feet of aerial vehicles that are equipped with electrical contacts required for charging of batteries and loading carried out by means of contacts, attached to the feet, manufactured by company (http://www.skysense.co/), are known from prior art.

Landing base, specified in patent application US2015183528 (published July 2, 2015), intended for the landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle, which is adjusted to receive and load packages from and to unmanned aerial vehicles, is known from prior art. The landing base is also fitted with a radio beacon, which contributes to more accurate landing of unmanned aerial vehicle, and also solar batteries for generating energy, needed by the landing base.

Solution, specified in patent application WO20 5108588 (published July 23, 2015), which describes a landing method and system for an unmanned aerial vehicle, is known from prior art. Landing base is surrounded by strips to ensure more accurate location of the unmanned aerial vehicle; the strips are raised above the surface of the landing base and supported by rods, fitted to the edges of landing area.

Solution, specified in patent application WO2015117216 (published August 13, 2015), which describes a landing base for unmanned aerial vehicle, with edges that are bent upwards, is known from prior art.

A common disadvantage of the prior art solutions is the absence of an automated and accurate solution for landing unmanned aerial vehicle upon the landing base, and simultaneous performance of single and multiple maintenance procedures on the unmanned aerial vehicle (incl. replacement of batteries) upon landing. Such disadvantages result in considerable time delay in almost uninterrupted airborne status of unmanned aerial vehicle. The need for an operator of unmanned aerial vehicles to get involved for the purposes of uninterrupted operation of unmanned aerial vehicles is also a disadvantage. The use of the systems, described above, is impossible in areas that are hard to access. The solution concerned will eliminate such advantages. Summary of the invention

The present invention aims to describe a device and method that would allow for automated accurate landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle upon a landing base of a landing platform and accurate positioning of the vehicle on the base. By involving the invention, unmanned aerial vehicle will have the ability, without manual involvement from operator, both to get airborne and land upon the landing base and, once landed, move to the intended position on landing base and desired position, both one and many times, and perform both single and multiple maintenance procedure(s) (replacement of batteries, maintenance etc.) after landing.

Landing base of an unmanned aerial vehicle will be equipped, according to a solution known from prior art, with a single or multiple unique marker(s) that will be engaged by the unmanned aerial vehicle to position itself, first, during landing. After reaching the landing base, the unmanned aerial vehicle may deviate as much as half a metre from the centre of the landing base, despite the landing marker. Accurate positioning of the unmanned aerial vehicle after landing will be required to perform post-aviation procedures on the landing base. To allow for accurate landing of the unmanned aerial vehicle, the landing base will be equipped with a single or more surface(s), which may be sloped, level, spherical, curved either inside or outside, or with some other shape. The specific shape of the landing base itself is not a determining factor of major importance for the purposes of the scope of legal protection of the invention.

The landing base, on its turn, will be equipped with a vibration emitting device, which will generate vibration on the surface of the landing base or a part of it. Vibrating surface of the landing base will move the aerial vehicle to the desired location and position on the landing base. Vibration-generating device of the landing base can be adjusted, e.g. at least with respect to the vibration frequency and amplitude and movement geometry of the landing base surface, whereas the vibration parameters can be also adjusted during the operation cycle of the vibration generating device. Vibration parameters also allow for automated adjustment, for example, by identifying the parameters of the unmanned aerial vehicle to land on the landing base, for example, its weight. The method for landing of the unmanned aerial vehicle upon the landing base comprises the following steps: unmanned aerial vehicle will land on the landing base; vibration generating device of the landing base will be switched on; vibration will be engaged to position the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position by moving it along the surface of the landing base; sensors of the landing base will identify the location of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base; optionally the vibration generating device of the landing base will be switched off; automated and/or manual maintenance procedure(s) will be carried out on the unmanned to switch off, including, where appropriate, also communication session(s) between the aerial vehicle and the landing base and the landing base and the central system.

List of figures

Figure 1 depicts a side view of one of the possible embodiment of the landing platform, complete with the vibration generating device below the landing base.

Figure 2 depicts a top view of one of the possible embodiment of the landing platforms, complete with the vibration generating device below the landing base.

Embodiment of the invention

Embodiments of the invention are given below.

Preferred embodiment involves landing platform 1 of an unmanned aerial vehicle with a landing base 2, which is fitted with one or several surface(s). Landing base 2 is linked to a vibration generating device 3, which applies vibration to at least one such surface or a part of such surface. As an unmanned aerial vehicle lands on the landing base 2, vibration generating device 3 will be started, and this will result in relocation of the unmanned aerial vehicle to the desired location and position on the landing base 2. According to one embodiment, the vibration generating device 3 of the landing base 2 can be set and adjusted. Also, upon identification of the parameters of the unmanned aerial vehicle that reaches the landing base 2, one of the alternative embodiments will allow for automated adjustment of the parameters of vibration generating device 3 according to the measured re-set parameters of the aerial vehicle. Yet another embodiment will allow for the adjustment of the vibration parameters of the vibration generating device 3 during the operating cycle of the vibration generating device 3. This means that the vibration frequency and amplitude of the vibration generating device 3 and movement geometry of the landing base 2 can be adjusted to ensure the movement of the unmanned aerial vehicle to the desired location and position on the landing base 2.

Once the sensors of the landing base 2 have detected the location of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base 2, the vibration generating device 3 will optionally be switched off.

Automated maintenance procedures can be performed on the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base 2. To allow for the performance of automated maintenance procedure, the landing base 2 of the unmanned aerial vehicle will be optionally equipped with battery replacement mechanisms, known from prior art or mechanism (wireless) for charging batteries or a mechanism for charging batteries via the feet of the unmanned aerial vehicle or the combination of such devices or some other mechanisms required to perform maintenance procedures.

The landing base of the unmanned aerial vehicle may optionally be equipped with a communication system that will allow to hold communication sessions between the landing base and one or more unmanned aerial vehicles, but also between the landing base and the central system, for example, the operation system.

Preferred embodiment of automated positioning of an unmanned aerial vehicle on the lading base 2 of the landing platform 1 comprises the following steps: unmanned aerial vehicle will be landed on the landing base 2; vibration generating device 3 of the landing base 2 will be switched on; vibration will be engaged to position the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base 2 by moving it along the surface of the landing base 2; sensors of the landing base 2 will identify the location of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the desired location and position on the landing base 2; optionally the vibration generating device 3 of the landing base will be switched off; one or several automated maintenance procedure(s) will be carried out on the unmanned aerial vehicle, including also, where appropriate, one or several communication session(s) between the aerial vehicle and the landing base 2 and the landing base 2 and the central system.

System and device according to the invention can be also alternately operated in case of manual maintenance procedures, which are performed on unmanned aerial vehicle on landing base 2.

Alternative embodiment of the method comprises optional identification of the parameters of the unmanned aerial vehicle, which lands on landing base 2, and optional adjustment of vibration parameters of vibration generating device 3 according to the measured pre-set parameters of the unmanned aerial vehicle. Yet another alternative embodiment of the methods will allow for optional adjustment of vibration parameters of vibration generating device 3 during its operating cycle. Such alternative embodiments will additionally ensure positioning of the unmanned aerial vehicle to the desired location and position on landing base 2.