MicroCart (Microprocessor Controlled Aerial Robotics Team) - Project Information


Introduction

Microprocessor Controlled Aerial Robotics Team or MicroCART project is centered around the development of a quadcopter and tracking system. This project has been in development since 1998 and the current system has been passed down since 2006. The project aims to create a stable and easy to use platform for researching control theory and to showcase the skills that a student in the ECpE department can gain throughout their time at Iowa State by creating an impressive demo that the quad can perform. The quadcopter flies primarily in the Distributed Sensing and Decision Making Laboratory within a twelve camera infrared tracking system.

Goals

We plan to build upon the previous MicroCART team’s platform by improving the stabilization, designing new demos, redesigning the ground station GUI, and building upon the virtual quadcopter software. The current system is relatively stable while the quad is within the VRPN system, but in order to use the optical flow for navigation, the system needs improvement. This will require us to fully understand the current system and design metrics that can be used to quantitatively show the results of changes. The demos that will be designed are meant to show the new functionality added to the quadcopter during our time working on the system. While working on the stabilization, the ground station GUI will be redesigned. The new GUI will allow for greater control of all functionality on the quadcopter and implement more safety measures to make sure that the user cannot cause unintentional harm to the drone. Next, the virtual quadcopter is a tool that allows testing of the controls and software prior to running the it on the quadcopter. This system is still in development and our goal is to have the ability to fully simulate movement and flights within the virtual quadcopter software. While working toward these goals, we want to make major improvement to the current state of documentation within the project that will allow next year’s team to gain understanding within 4 weeks of gaining access to the files.

MicroCART Quadcopter