Exciting technological developments in Energy ECS Drone Zone use case

Author: Edoardo Sebastiani & Marco Ambrosio (Politecnico di Torino)

With DroneZone use case, the goal is to build an ecosystem based on drones capable of missions over large geographic areas, using buses as docks to draw energy from and travel between destinations, as well as independent PV based charging stations in remote areas.

To achieve this result, on 6-7th February 2024, Energy ECS team went to PIC4SeR (Politecnico di Torino Interdepartmental Centre for Service Robotics) facilities in Turin and tested many flight scenarios with drones, such as landing on pad or wireless-recharging the drone’s batteries with solar panels.

Drone’s precise localization is a key feature to achieve reliable take-off and landing operation on a narrow and moving platform. Indeed, the focus of the test performed in Turin was to benchmark and compare different localization solutions. Two cutting edge technologies are proposed in this regard: FixPosition’s VRTK and Ultra-wideband (UWB) localization developed by PIC4SeR.

VRTK is an advanced sensor fusion solution to merge visual and inertial data with GNSS positioning information. It provides real-time positioning information with leading performance in GNSS-degraded areas, such as urban canyons.

On the other side, UWB is an innovative localization technique for precise short-range localization using low-power radio transceivers. It consists of four antennas placed around the landing pad, called anchors, and a tag placed on board of the drone that can infer their relative distances. Then, advanced filtering techniques are used to estimate the pose of the drone with respect to the landing pad.

Finally, the 200 W wireless charging station, utilizing energy harvested from high-efficiency photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of a bus and stored in a battery, was assembled and tested.

Those tests allowed Energy ECS to collect very important data for the UC1 final demo and created a stimulating working environment together with the Interdepartmental Centre personnel.

We would like to thank all our partners (FixPosition – CH, IUNET: PoliTo, UniUD – IT, TietoEvry – FI, SE, CSEM – CH, SVARMI and STRAETO from Iceland) who participated, without whom we would not have been able to achieve these results.

We will meet in Iceland end of May 2024 for the final tests!

Learn more about UC 1, DroneZones – Autonomous Drone Ecosystem

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