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Development and Testing of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Large Scale Particle Image Velocimetry

[+] Author Affiliations
Christopher Pagano, Maurizio Porfiri

New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY

Flavia Tauro

New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NYSapienza University, Rome, Italy

Salvatore Grimaldi

New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NYUniversity of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy

Paper No. DSCC2014-5838, pp. V003T44A001; 7 pages
  • ASME 2014 Dynamic Systems and Control Conference
  • Volume 3: Industrial Applications; Modeling for Oil and Gas, Control and Validation, Estimation, and Control of Automotive Systems; Multi-Agent and Networked Systems; Control System Design; Physical Human-Robot Interaction; Rehabilitation Robotics; Sensing and Actuation for Control; Biomedical Systems; Time Delay Systems and Stability; Unmanned Ground and Surface Robotics; Vehicle Motion Controls; Vibration Analysis and Isolation; Vibration and Control for Energy Harvesting; Wind Energy
  • San Antonio, Texas, USA, October 22–24, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Dynamic Systems and Control Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4620-9
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Large scale particle image velocimetry (LSPIV) is a nonintrusive environmental monitoring methodology that allows for continuous characterization of surface flows in natural catchments. Despite its promise, the implementation of LSPIV in natural environments is limited to areas accessible to human operators. In this work, we propose a novel experimental configuration that allows for unsupervised LSPIV over large water bodies. Specifically, we design, develop, and characterize a lightweight, low cost, and stable quadricopter hosting a digital acquisition system. An active gimbal maintains the camera lens orthogonal to the water surface, thus preventing severe image distortions. Field experiments are performed to characterize the vehicle and assess the feasibility of the approach. We demonstrate that the quadricopter can hover above an area of 1×1m2 for 4–5 minutes with a payload of 500g. Further, LSPIV measurements on a natural stream confirm that the methodology can be reliably used for surface flow studies.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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