Universal Flying Objects : Modular Multirotor System for Flight of Rigid Objects

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Article number8920216
Pages (from-to)458-471
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number2
Online published3 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


In this article, we introduce Universal Flying Objects—a modular aerial robotic platform for transforming a rigid object into a multirotor robot. To achieve this, we develop flight modules, in the form of a control module and propelling modules that can be affixed to an object. The object, or payload, serves as the airframe of the vehicle. The modular design produces a highly versatile platform as it is reconfigurable by the addition or removal of flight modules, adjustment of the modules' arrangement, or change of payloads. To facilitate the flight control, we propose an inertial measurement unit (IMU)-based estimation strategy for rapid computation of the robot's configuration. When combined with the adaptive geometric controller for further refinement of uncertain parameters, stable flights are accomplished with minimal manual intervention or tuning required by a user. To this end, we demonstrate hovering and trajectory tracking flights through various robot configurations with different dummy payloads, weighing ≈200-800 g, using four to eight propelling modules. The results reveal that stable flights are attainable thanks to the proposed IMU-based estimation method. The flight performance is markedly improved over time through the adaptive scheme, with position errors of a few centimeters after the parameter convergence.

Research Area(s)

  • Adaptive geometric control, estimation, inertial measurement unit (IMU), microaerial vehicles (MAVs), modular robots