Micro aerial vehicles and other autonomous systems have the potential to truly transform life as we know it, however much of the potential of autonomous systems remains unrealized because reliable navigation is still an unsolved problem with significant challenges. This dissertation presents solutions to many aspects of autonomous navigation. First, it presents ROSflight, a software and hardware architure that allows for rapid prototyping and experimentation of autonomy algorithms on MAVs with lightweight, efficient flight control. Next, this dissertation presents improvments to the state-of-the-art in optimal control of quadrotors by utilizing the error-state formulation frequently utilized in state estimation. It is shown that performing optimal control directly over the error-state results in a vastly more computationally efficient system than competing methods while also dealing with the non-vector rotation components of the state in a principled way. In addition, real-time robust flight planning is considered with a method to navigate cluttered, potentially unknown scenarios with real-time obstacle avoidance. Robust state estimation is a critical component to reliable operation, and this dissertation focuses on improving the robustness of visual-inertial state estimation in a filtering framework by extending the state-of-the-art to include better modeling and sensor fusion. Further, this dissertation takes concepts from the visual-inertial estimation community and applies it to tightly-coupled GNSS, visual-inertial state estimation. This method is shown to demonstrate significantly more reliable state estimation than visual-inertial or GNSS-inertial state estimation alone in a hardware experiment through a GNSS-GNSS denied transition flying under a building and back out into open sky. Finally, this dissertation explores a novel method to combine measurements from multiple agents into a coherent map. Traditional approaches to this problem attempt to solve for the position of multiple agents at specific times in their trajectories. This dissertation instead attempts to solve this problem in a relative context, resulting in a much more robust approach that is able to handle much greater intial error than traditional approaches.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





GPS degradation, GPS denied, navigation, state estimation, observability, error state, sensor fusion, vision-aided INS, consistency, multirotor, micro air vehicle, indoor flight, outdoor flight, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), pose graph optimization, obstacle avoidance, visual odometry, Moving Horizon Estimation, Pseudorange, Linear Quadratic Regulator, LQR, Moving Horizon Estimation, MHE, Sliding Window, Optimization



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Engineering Commons