D Skeyeball Project Description

Skeyeball: Remote control aerial video platform

•   Project Overview           •   Subsystems           •   Test Flights           •   CSSS presentation

Abstract: Skeyeball is a platform for undergraduate and masters level projects in embedded systems. It is an airborne camera platform for short range video imaging. Various objectives include basic infrastructure, microflyer reconnaisaance, automomous flight, automated stability control, image stabilization, vision, etc.

Skeyeball is also a viable platform for research experimentation, but that is not its primary purpose at this time.

Supervisor: Steven D. Johnson (sjohnson@cs.indiana.edu)
Scientist: Danko Antolovic (bhimebau@cs.indiana.edu)
Caleb Hess (hess@cs.indiana.edu)
Current Participants:
Past participants: Prashant Patel (summer 2000) Aaron Wilson (summer 2001)
Credit: available by arrangement at all levels; team projects are encouraged.
Background: For all projects, the design team needs background in some or all of the following areas: digital design, FPGA implementation, system-level programming, event handling software, embedded software, network communications. There are projects that require domain-specific knowledged (such as vision), and other projects that are simply system design challenges. Engineering support for the Skeyeball us limited, so project so project proposal evaluations will consider the support needs, and may result in suggested refinements to the project goals.

Project Overview:

The vehicle for this project is a radio-controlled (RC) aircraft, capable of short range line-of-sight ground control (i.e. a conventional RC airplane). The vehicle's purpose is spotting and investigating ground objects through an on-board video camera. The general intent of the object is given in the following scenario:
A human observer (OBS) wants to investigate a nearby, inaccessible location whose view is blocked by the terrain. OBS launches the airplane and flies it by remote control to the area of interest, using direct sight. Once the airplane reaches the vicinity of the target, the video telemetry is used by the ground pilot. During this phase, autonomous flight control is used to keep the camera platform stable in flight; and OBS reconnoiters by directing the camera to look around. Once an interesting ground object is sighted, OBS directs the on-board system to track it with the camera while OBS resumes flight control. OBS may also order the aircraft to perform a vision based task, such as orbiting the target.
Later extensions of the project may provide the means to autonomously search and identify objects, but the present goal is simpler: to use the tracking subsystem to guide the airplane. Similarly tasks may become more complex. For instance, the airplane may purposely or accidentally fly out of line-of-sight control, and have on-board capability to climb into line-of-sight, or even return to base.

Principal subsystems

The subsystems described below are potential projects already identified. However Skeyeball is intended to be a platform for individual projects in system design. The project is open to anyone who would find it an appropriate vehicle for research investigations of any kind.