ACE Autonomous Underwater Robotics
ACE Unmanned Air Vehicles
successful swarms include wireless communications by
which the robots become aware of each other. Frequently,
the robots are aware of their location in relation to the
locations of the other robots. In many approaches to swarm
robotics, location awareness is important to cooperation
and dividing the various elements of the task at large.
The third level deals with the degree to which robots
act with regard or disregard for the actions of others in
the swarm. The more strongly the robot swarms are
coordinated, the more effective they become. Finally,
people organize swarms in one of a few ways: either
researchers make them distributed with each acting
autonomously, or they make them centralized with a leader
among them. Weakly centralized swarms — which fall
somewhere in the middle — have more than one leader or
“master” robot. The UTSA swarm robots use multiple
masters and distributed decision-making.
In their work at UTSA, scientists include a larger
hierarchy in which swarms of land, air, and sea robots are
coordinated from a network as part of a larger swarm that
encompasses them all. Researchers call this a system of
Fixed Wing UAVs
In UTSA’s UAV research, two fixed wing unmanned
craft in flight.
airplanes serve — with one as the master robot — providing
coordinates to quad-rotor UAVs (the Dragonfly used here is
an unconventional helicopter design with four perpendicular
rotors and motors). Coordinates and technical facility
include image recognition technology, inter- and intra-craft
communications, GPS locations, flight altitude and area
mapping for a surveillance task.
Because the fixed wing UAVs must cover large areas
with relatively large payloads (three lbs in one case), the
scientists constructed them with large wingspans and wing
areas. The master fixed wing robot has a wingspan of 69
inches and covers a wing area of 793 square inches,
according to the UTSA ACE lab. This robot carried a 2 lb
payload including a video camera, data link transmitter, an
FM receiver, and batteries.
The UAV is equipped with an autopilot board with
three-axis gyros and accelerometers, a GPS system, a
pressure altimeter, and airspeed sensors. The control board
is extendable with ultrasonic sensors for autonomous
takeoff and landing. The airplane uses a radio modem to
send out a live telemetry feed.
The second UAV has an 80 inch wingspan and 1,180
square inches of wing area, making it capable of taking off
with a 3 lb payload. This second fixed wing vehicle carries a
flight control board, an Inertia Measurement Unit, a GPS, a
modem, a video camera, a 5 channel receiver and its
Here are some of the team of researchers in the University of Texas, San Antonio Autonomous Control Engineering Center.