Aircraft that can launch ballistically and then convert to autonomous, free-flying drones have applications in many areas, such as emergency response, defense, and space exploration, where they can gather critical situational data using onboard sensors. In previous work, we presented a proof-of-concept, manually-stabilized folding multirotor that deploys from a pressurized tube mounted on a vehicle moving at speeds of up to 50 mph (https://youtu.be/sQuKJfllyRM). Now we present a larger, autonomously-stabilizing multirotor prototype with an onboard sensor suite, autonomy pipeline, and improved aerodynamic stability margin. We also demonstrate autonomous transition from passive to active stabilization, confirming the multirotor's ability to autonomously stabilize after a ballistic launch in a GPS-denied environment.
A. Bouman, P. Nadan, M. Anderson, D. Pastor, J. Izraelevitz, J. Burdick, B. Kennedy, “Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor,” arXiv: arXiv:1911.10269 [eess.SY], Nov. 2019.