UK’s BMT Defence Services (BMT) joined forces with the University of Bristol to work on the development of an UAV that would be the first ever to perform a perched landing on a ship’s flight deck.
The 18-month research project was delivered as part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Autonomous Systems Underpinning Research (ASUR) programme.
BMT and Bristol University have demonstrated how the combination of a morphing wing UAV and machine learning can be used to generate a trajectory to perform a perched landing on the ground.
The UAV has been tested at altitude to validate the approach and the team are working towards a system that can perform a repeatable ground landing.
Current UAVs are somewhat restrictive in that they have fixed and rigid wings, which reduces the flexibility in how they can fly. The primary goal of the work was to look at extending the operation of current fixed wing UAVs by introducing morphing wing structures inspired by those found in birds. To control these complex wing structures, BMT utilised machine learning algorithms to learn a flight controller using inspiration from nature.
“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at BMT and R&D projects provide us with the opportunity to work with our partners to develop cutting edge capabilities that have the potential to revolutionise the way we gather information,” Simon Luck, head of information services and information assurance at BMT Defence Services said.