According to a press
release from MIT, the MIT Autonomous X-Cell 60
Helicopter has completed a Split-S. MIT professor Eric Feron claims this
is the most "complex maneuver ever completed automatically by any
helicopter". In February, robots.net covered the MIT
helicopter's autonomous performance of a 360 degree aileron roll.
The MIT project is quite impressive, although the maneuvers are being
run "open loop" from recordings of the manual pilot, rather than under
complete control of the flight control software.
In related news, my own
has successfully hovered under computer control. The inertial
measurement unit (IMU) produced body frame roll rates and accelerations
to the AHRS (Attitude / Heading reference system) software running on a
Linux iPAQ. This attitude estimate was fed into a PID controller that
produced servo commands to maintain the commanded attitude.
It all worked really well; we have
videos of the
helicopter hovering on its own. Of course, the
controller source code, AHRS
is all online.
I'd like to see a comparison of costs between the two projects. You guys
are probably working on a fraction of the budget MIT has got and your
results are looking just as promising. I believe MIT's helicopter is being
funded by NASA, the Navy, and some other organizations...