Abstract: Over last decade, small-size unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have received unprecedented research interests and created extensive applications as well as market opportunities. Currently dominant UAV platforms, such as quadrotors and hexarotors, although exhibits great maneuverability (i.e. vertical takeoff and landing, hovering capability), is inherently energy inefficient by its flight mechanics. This drawback has increasingly limited their application in range- and/or endurance-demanding tasks such as surveying and mapping. Motivated by this, hybrid aerial vehicles such as tail-sitters, tilt-rotors, tilt-props, or dual-propulsion systems can transform between multirotor mode and fixed-wing mode, thus inheriting both benefits. Though having been actively explored in the aviation history, low-cost, small-size hybrid UAVs with increased intelligence and autonomy still poses a grand challenge. In this talk, I will present the development of a portable hybrid vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV. From a system point of view, three topics will be covered: design, modeling and control. Through the design, implementation and intensive tests, I will show how recent advances in low cost actuator (e.g. motor, propeller, ESCs), computation units and sensors have enabled the development of such small-size hybrid VTOL UAVs, and the arisen opportunities and challenges.
Bio: Dr. Fu Zhang received the B.E. (with honor) from the Department of Automation, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China, in 2011. Then he studied at Department of Mechanical Engineering, the University of California, with full scholarship. He received the Ph.D. degree there in 2015, focusing on the dynamics modeling and control of ultra-high precision machining systems and high performance micro-scale rate integrating gyros funded by DARPA. Dr. Fu Zhang is now a research assistant professor with the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His current research interests include the dynamics, control and navigation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), deep reinforcement learning and optimization.