Imperial College London

DrMirkoKovac

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Aeronautics

Reader in Aerial Robotics
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 5063m.kovac Website

 
 
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Location

 

326City and Guilds BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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58 results found

Debruyn D, Zufferey R, Armanini SF, Winston C, Farinha A, Jin Y, Kovac Met al., 2020, MEDUSA: a multi-environment dual-robot for underwater sample acquisition, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Pages: 1-1, ISSN: 2377-3766

Aerial-aquatic robots possess the unique ability of operating in both air and water. However, this capability comes with tremendous challenges, such as communication incompatibility, increased airborne mass, potentially inefficient operation in each of the environments and manufacturing difficulties. Such robots, therefore, typically have small payloads and a limited operational envelope, often making their field usage impractical. We propose a novel robotic water sampling approach that combines the robust technologies of multirotors and underwater micro-vehicles into a single integrated tool usable for field operations. The proposed solution encompasses a multirotor capable of landing and floating on the water, and a tethered mobile underwater pod that can be deployed to depths of several meters. The pod is controlled remotely in three dimensions and transmits video feed and sensor data via the floating multirotor back to the user. The ‚dual-robot‛ approach considerably simplifies robotic underwater monitoring, while also taking advantage of the fact that multirotors can travel long distances, fly over obstacles, carry payloads and manoeuvre through difficult terrain, while submersible robots are ideal for underwater sampling or manipulation. The presented system can perform challenging tasks which would otherwise require boats or submarines. The ability to collect aquatic images, samples and metrics will be invaluable for ecology and aquatic research, supporting our understanding of local climate in difficult-to-access environments.

Journal article

Zhang K, Chermprayong P, Tzoumanikas D, Li W, Grimm M, Smentoch M, Leutenegger S, Kovac Met al., 2019, Bioinspired design of a landing system with soft shock absorbers for autonomous aerial robots, JOURNAL OF FIELD ROBOTICS, Vol: 36, Pages: 230-251, ISSN: 1556-4959

Journal article

Zufferey R, Ancel AO, Farinha A, Siddall R, Armanini SF, Nasr M, Brahmal R, Kennedy G, Kovac Met al., 2019, Consecutive aquatic jump-gliding with water-reactive fuel, SCIENCE ROBOTICS, Vol: 4, ISSN: 2470-9476

Journal article

Zufferey R, Ancel AO, Raposo C, Armanini SF, Farinha A, Siddall R, Berasaluce I, Zhu H, Kovac Met al., 2019, SailMAV: Design and Implementation of a Novel Multi-Modal Flying Sailing Robot, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol: 4, Pages: 2894-2901

Journal article

Armanini SF, Siddall R, Kovac M, 2019, Modelling and simulation of a bioinspired aquatic micro aerial vehicle, AIAA Aviation 2019 Forum, Publisher: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Conference paper

Petersen KH, Napp N, Stuart-Smith R, Rus D, Kovac Met al., 2019, A review of collective robotic construction, SCIENCE ROBOTICS, Vol: 4, ISSN: 2470-9476

Journal article

Chermprayong P, Zhang K, Xiao F, Kovac Met al., 2019, An Integrated Delta Manipulator for Aerial Repair A New Aerial Robotic System, IEEE ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION MAGAZINE, Vol: 26, Pages: 54-66, ISSN: 1070-9932

Journal article

Tzoumanikas D, Li W, Grimm M, Zhang K, Kovac M, Leutenegger Set al., 2019, Fully autonomous micro air vehicle flight and landing on a moving target using visual–inertial estimation and model-predictive control, Journal of Field Robotics, Vol: 36, Pages: 49-77, ISSN: 1556-4959

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) held in spring 2017 was a very successful competition well attended by teams from all over the world. One of the challenges (Challenge 1) required an aerial robot to detect, follow, and land on a moving target in a fully autonomous fashion. In this paper, we present the hardware components of the micro air vehicle (MAV) we built with off the self components alongside the designed algorithms that were developed for the purposes of the competition. We tackle the challenge of landing on a moving target by adopting a generic approach, rather than following one that is tailored to the MBZIRC Challenge 1 setup, enabling easy adaptation to a wider range of applications and targets, even indoors, since we do not rely on availability of global positioning system. We evaluate our system in an uncontrolled outdoor environment where our MAV successfully and consistently lands on a target moving at a speed of up to 5.0 m/s.

Journal article

Hai-Nguyen N, Siddall R, Stephens B, Navarro-Rubio A, Kovac Met al., 2019, A Passively Adaptive Microspine Grapple for Robust, Controllable Perching, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 80-87

Conference paper

Zhang K, Zhu Y, Lou C, Zheng P, Kovac Met al., 2019, A Design and Fabrication Approach for Pneumatic Soft Robotic Arms Using 3D Printed Origami Skeletons, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 821-827

Conference paper

Sareh P, Chermprayong P, Emmanuelli M, Nadeem H, Kovac Met al., 2018, Rotorigami: A rotary origami protective system for robotic rotorcraft, Science Robotics, Vol: 3, ISSN: 2470-9476

Applications of aerial robots are progressively expanding into complex urban and natural environments. Despite remarkable advancements in the field, robotic rotorcraft is still drastically limited by the environment in which they operate. Obstacle detection and avoidance systems have functionality limitations and substantially add to the computational complexity of the onboard equipment of flying vehicles. Furthermore, they often cannot identify difficult-to-detect obstacles such as windows and wires. Robustness to physical contact with the environment is essential to mitigate these limitations and continue mission completion. However, many current mechanical impact protection concepts are either not sufficiently effective or too heavy and cumbersome, severely limiting the flight time and the capability of flying in constrained and narrow spaces. Therefore, novel impact protection systems are needed to enable flying robots to navigate in confined or heavily cluttered environments easily, safely, and efficiently while minimizing the performance penalty caused by the protection method. Here, we report the development of a protection system for robotic rotorcraft consisting of a free-to-spin circular protector that is able to decouple impact yawing moments from the vehicle, combined with a cyclic origami impact cushion capable of reducing the peak impact force experienced by the vehicle. Experimental results using a sensor-equipped miniature quadrotor demonstrated the impact resilience effectiveness of the Rotary Origami Protective System (Rotorigami) for a variety of collision scenarios. We anticipate this work to be a starting point for the exploitation of origami structures in the passive or active impact protection of robotic vehicles.

Journal article

Sareh P, Chermprayong P, Emmanuelli M, Nadeem, Kovac Met al., The spinning cyclic ‘Miura-oRing’ for mechanical collision-resilience, The 7th International Meeting on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education

Conference paper

Jarvis R, Farinha A, Kovac M, Cegla Fet al., 2018, NDE sensor delivery using unmanned aerial vehicles, INSIGHT, Vol: 60, Pages: 463-467, ISSN: 1354-2575

Journal article

Goldberg B, Zufferey R, Doshi N, Helbling EF, Whittredge G, Kovac M, Wood RJet al., 2018, Power and Control Autonomy for High-Speed Locomotion With an Insect-Scale Legged Robot, IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION LETTERS, Vol: 3, Pages: 987-993, ISSN: 2377-3766

Journal article

Zhang K, Chermprayong P, Alhinai TM, Siddall R, Kovac Met al., 2017, SpiderMAV: Perching and stabilizing micro aerial vehicles with bio-inspired tensile anchoring systems, 2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 6849-6854, ISSN: 2153-0858

Whilst Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) possess a variety of promising capabilities, their high energy consumption severely limits applications where flight endurance is of high importance. Reducing energy usage is one of the main challenges in advancing aerial robot utility. To address this bottleneck in the development of unmanned aerial vehicle applications, this work proposes an bioinspired mechanical approach and develops an aerial robotic system for greater endurance enabled by low power station-keeping. The aerial robotic system consists of an multirotor MAV and anchoring modules capable of launching multiple tensile anchors to fixed structures in its operating envelope. The resulting tensile perch is capable of providing a mechanically stabilized mode for high accuracy operation in 3D workspace. We explore generalised geometric and static modelling of the stabilisation concept using screw theory. Following the analytical modelling of the integrated robotic system, the tensile anchoring modules employing high pressure gas actuation are designed, prototyped and then integrated to a quadrotor platform. The presented design is validated with experimental tests, demonstrating the stabilization capability even in a windy environment.

Conference paper

Chen Y, Wang H, Helbling EF, Jafferis NT, Zufferey R, Ong A, Ma K, Gravish N, Chirarattananon P, Kovac M, Wood RJet al., 2017, A biologically inspired, flapping-wing, hybrid aerial-aquatic microrobot, SCIENCE ROBOTICS, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2470-9476

Journal article

Sareh S, Althoefer K, Li M, Noh Y, Tramacere F, Sareh P, Mazzolai B, Kovac Met al., 2017, Anchoring like octopus: biologically inspired soft artificial sucker, JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE, Vol: 14, ISSN: 1742-5689

Journal article

Siddall RJD, Kovac M, Kennedy G, High Power Propulsion Strategies for Aquatic Take-off in Robotics, International Symposium on Robotics Research 2015, Publisher: Springer, ISSN: 1610-7438

The ability to move between air and water with miniature robots would allow distributedwater sampling and monitoring of a variety of unstructured marine environments,such as coral reefs and coastal areas. To enable such applications, we are developing anew class of aerial-aquatic robots, called Aquatic Micro Aerial Vehicles (AquaMAVs),capable of diving into the water and returning to flight. One of the main challenges inthe development of an AquaMAV is the provision of sufficient power density for take-offfrom the water. In this paper, we present a novel system for powerful, repeatable aquaticescape using acetylene explosions in a 34 gram water jet thruster, which expels watercollected from its environment as propellant. We overcome the miniaturisation problemsof combustible fuel control and storage by generating acetylene gas from solid calciumcarbide, which is reacted with enviromental water. The produced gas is then combusted inair in a valveless combustion chamber to produce over 20N of thrust, sufficient to propelsmall robots into the air from water. The system for producing combustible gases fromsolid fuels is a very compact means of gas storage, and can be applied to other forms ofpneumatic actuation and inflatable structure deployment.

Conference paper

Siddall R, Kennedy G, Kovac M, 2017, High-Power Propulsion Strategies for Aquatic Take-off in Robotics, Robotics Research

Book chapter

Braithwaite A, Alhinai T, Haas-Heger M, McFarlane E, Kovac Met al., 2017, Spider inspired construction and perching with a swarm of nano aerial vehicles, Robotics Research, Editors: Bicchi, Burgard, Publisher: Springer, Pages: 71-88

Autonomous construction with aerial vehicles has great potential for in-situ repair and construction in hard-to-access areas. In this paper, we present and demonstrate a mechanism by which a team of autonomous nano aerial vehicles construct a multi-element tensile structure between anchor points in an irregular environment, such as a natural woodland. Furthermore, we demonstrate potential applications of such a structure to enable long-term position holding of aerial vehicles that are otherwise extremely limited in terms of available flight time due to energy constraints. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this mechanism, we develop the mechanical and electronic designs of two payload packages for attachment to nano quadrotor robots with a total integrated mass of only 26 g per robot, and we present the trajectory planning and control algorithms required to enable robust execution of the construction scheme.

Book chapter

Kovac M, Dams, Sareh, Zhang, Shepherd, Ballet al., Aerial additive building manufacturing: three-dimensional printing of polymer structures using drones, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Construction Materials

Conference paper

Goldberg B, Doshi N, Wood RJ, 2017, High speed trajectory control using an experimental maneuverability model for an insect-scale legged robot, 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Publisher: IEEE

Conference paper

Sareh P, Kovac M, 2017, Robots, SCIENCE, Vol: 355, Pages: 1379-1379, ISSN: 0036-8075

Journal article

Tan YH, Siddall R, Kovac M, 2017, Efficient Aerial–Aquatic Locomotion With a Single Propulsion System, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol: 2, Pages: 1304-1311, ISSN: 2377-3766

Aerial-aquatic locomotion would allow a broad array of tasks in robot-enabled environmental monitoring or disaster management. One of the most significant challenges of aerial-aquatic locomotion in mobile robots is finding a propulsion system that is capable of working effectively in both fluids and transitioning between them. The large differences in the density and viscosity of air compared to water means that a single direct propulsion system without adaptability will be inefficient in at least one medium. This paper examines multimodal propeller propulsion using computational tools validated against experimental data. Based on this analysis, we present a novel gearbox enabling an aerial propulsion system to operate efficiently underwater. This is achieved with minimal complexity using a single fixed pitch propeller system, which can change gear underwater by reversing the drive motor, but with the gearing arranged to leave the propeller direction unchanged. This system is then integrated into a small robot, and flights in air and locomotion underwater are demonstrated.

Journal article

Kovac M, 2017, Beyond Schrödinger's cat, Science, Vol: 355, Pages: 253-253, ISSN: 0036-8075

Journal article

Sareh S, Siddall R, Alhinai T, Kovac Met al., 2017, Bio-inspired Soft Aerial Robots: Adaptive Morphology for High-Performance Flight, Soft Robotics Week - Trends, Applications and Challenges, Publisher: SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG, Pages: 65-74, ISSN: 2195-3562

Conference paper

Siddall R, Ancel AO, Kovac M, 2016, Wind and water tunnel testing of a morphing aquatic micro air vehicle, INTERFACE FOCUS, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2042-8898

Journal article

Siddall R, Kovac, 2016, Fast aquatic escape with a jet thruster, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol: 22, Pages: 217-226, ISSN: 1083-4435

The ability to collect water samples rapidly with aerial–aquatic robots would increase the safety and efficiency of water health monitoring and allow water sample collection from dangerous or inaccessible areas. An aquatic micro air vehicle (AquaMAV) able to dive into the water offers a low cost and robust means of collecting samples. However, small-scale flying vehicles generally do not have sufficient power for transition to flight from water. In this paper, we present a novel jet propelled AquaMAV able to perform jumpgliding leaps from water and a planar trajectory model that is able to accurately predict aquatic escape trajectories. Using this model, we are able to offer insights into the stability of aquatic takeoff to perturbations from surface waves and demonstrate that an impulsive leap is a robust method of flight transition. The AquaMAV uses a CO 2 powered water jet to escape the water, actuated by a custom shape memory alloy gas release. The 100 g robot leaps from beneath the surface, where it can deploy wings and glide over the water, achieving speeds above 11 m/s.

Journal article

Floreano, Zufferey, Klaptocz, Germann, Kovac Met al., 2016, Aerial locomotion in cluttered environments, Robotics Research, Editors: Christensen, Khatib, Publisher: Springer, Pages: 21-39

Many environments where robots are expected to operate are cluttered with objects, walls, debris, and different horizontal and vertical structures. In this chapter, we present four design features that allow small robots to rapidly and safely move in 3 dimensions through cluttered environments: a perceptual system capable of detecting obstacles in the robot’s surroundings, including the ground, with minimal computation, mass, and energy requirements; a flexible and protective framework capable of withstanding collisions and even using collisions to learn about the properties of the surroundings when light is not available; a mechanism for temporarily perching to vertical structures in order to monitor the environment or communicate with other robots before taking off again; and a self-deployment mechanism for getting in the air and perform repetitive jumps or glided flight. We conclude the chapter by suggesting future avenues for integration of multiple features within the same robotic platform.

Book chapter

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