Bio-Inspired Sensing and Hierarchical GN&C for Traversing Urban Clutter

Period of Performance: 08/07/2008 - 09/30/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aurora Flight Sciences Corp.
9950 Wakeman Drive Array
Manassas, VA 20110
Principal Investigator


Aurora Flight Sciences is developing an integrated system for guidance of micro air vehicles (MAVs) through cluttered environments using vision and sonar: the Panoramic Avoidance and Navigation using OPTics Integrated with Sonar (PANOPTIS) system. The three key elements of our cluttered guidance, navigation and control (CGNC) approach are: (1) wide-field integration (WFI) to enable vision-based negotiation through a near-field environment of relatively large obstacles, maintaining a path through complex environments; (2) bat-inspired echolocation sensing (ELS) for active sensing of imminent collisions; and (3) hierarchical application of behavioral and automaton-based navigation and maneuvering strategies. A coherent, lightweight solution that integrates WFI and ELS with a navigate-and-dodge hierarchical controller provides the best tradeoff between size, weight, power and performance, enabling true urban flight. Aurora has shown that the PANOPTIS components and algorithms are suitable for applications requiring low size, weight, and power, and has demonstrated the robustness of the system to sensor inaccuracies and environmental factors. Robust performance in difficult environments is achieved through the complementary properties of the optical and acoustic devices any inherent weaknesses in one technology are mitigated by overlapping capabilities of other technologies.