Stochastic High Fidelity Simulation and Scenarios for Testing of Fixed Wing Autonomous GNSS-Denied Navigation Algorithms

by   Eduardo Gallo, et al.

Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) inertial navigation exhibits an extreme dependency on the availability of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) signals, without which it incurs in a slow but unavoidable position drift that may ultimately lead to the loss of the platform if the GNSS signals are not restored or the aircraft does not reach a location from which it can be recovered by remote control. This article describes an stochastic high fidelity simulation of the flight of a fixed wing low SWaP (size, weight, and power) autonomous UAV in turbulent and varying weather intended to test and validate the GNSS-Denied performance of different navigation algorithms. Its open-source implementation has been released and is publicly available. Onboard sensors include accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, a Pitot tube, an air data system, a GNSS receiver, and a digital camera, so the simulation is valid for inertial, visual, and visual inertial navigation systems. Two scenarios involving the loss of GNSS signals are considered: the first represents the challenges involved in aborting the mission and heading towards a remote recovery location while experiencing varying weather, and the second models the continuation of the mission based on a series of closely spaced bearing changes. All simulation modules have been modeled with as few simplifications as possible to increase the realism of the results. While the implementation of the aircraft performances and its control system is deterministic, that of all other modules, including the mission, sensors, weather, wind, turbulence, and initial estimations, is fully stochastic. This enables a robust evaluation of each proposed navigation system by means of Monte-Carlo simulations that rely on a high number of executions of both scenarios.


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