Optimized Design & Control of a Tilted Propeller Aerial Robot for Ballast Tank Contact Inspections

MSc assignment

The AutoASSESS project

AutoASSESS is a Horizon Europe project focused on developing aerial robots that can autonomously inspect critical infrastructures, such as ballast water tanks. The main vision is to protect human surveyors and workers from dangerous and dirty confined areas by employing aerial robotic platforms. This will contribute to saving human lives and also significantly reduce inspection costs and time.


Master Thesis Objective

This project focuses on the task of autonomous *contact-inspection* of the walls of a ballast tank to check for cracks and other structural issues. In particular, the project aims to propose a suitable multirotor aerial vehicle (MRAV) design for such a task, which has specific requirements. For instance, the vehicle should autonomously navigate and perceive the ballast tank environment using onboard sensors. It should visit the contact inspection locations and use its specialized contact-inspection payload in order to perform the task. Both the previous performance specifications, lead to minimum payload requirements for the vehicle's design.

In general, the task poses some constraints on,

  •  The size of the MRAV, which should match the ballast tank specs
  •  The required minimum payload capacity
  •  The required minimum flight time
    among others

We envision as a baseline for the design, Tilted Propeller Multi-Rotor Aerial Vehicles MRAVs. These are multi-rotor aerial robot designs which are optimized for contact-based task. However, such designs are less performant than standard aerial platforms in terms of energy efficiency. This is primarily due to the presence of internal forces.

This project will work towards proposing and realizing a mechanical design that fulfils the previous requirements and constraints.

The student working on the project should systematically address the requirements by defining a set of research questions to be answered during the project execution.


Research Questions

The following are some examples of research questions for the proposed MSc thesis

  • With respect to the previous task requirements and constraints, What are their benchmarks when using standard fixedly tilted MRAV designs?
  • Would redesigning the force space of the MRAV achieve the required improvements?
    • What is an appropriate mathematical representation of the task requirements?
    • What is an appropriate design procedure to redesign the force space?