The project solution is based on a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) platform to provide discrete inspection of aircrafts before takeoff and execute leaner deicing procedures. This innovative solution is based on a patent deposited by WPWEB, currently following the PCT procedure for an international extension.
In order to deliver the envisioned solution, the SEI project will address a set of four (4) objectives. The first three are Technological Objectives (TOs), which are related to specific technological needs that will allow to technically achieve the expected results; the fourth one (1) is a Market Objective (MO), which aims at increasing the project’s impact on the market.
Technological Objective 1: Mission Awareness and advanced sensing.
The system is based on a methodology to assign different tasks to the UAV, with obstacle avoidance, in a time-efficient manner, complying with the requirement of finding an exact schedule, allowing the UAV to fly autonomously. The scheduling system should react to uncertain events (e.g. breakdown, fuel/battery depletion, etc.), which could happen during the UAV’s operations.
The SEI project is proposing a metaheuristic approach that assigns tasks to UAVs with the objective of minimizing the makespan. Advanced sensing functionalities will be attained through an UltraWideband localization system, providing global positioning data, together with an onboard hyperspectral camera for ice detection, and acoustic sensors.
The work in the SEI project has been divided into 7 WPs, including the analysis of the requirements of the reference case study, design and development of the main building blocks, the realisation of the UAV platform, testing and validation, as well as coordination and dissemination/exploitation activities.READ MORE
The overall information will be logged on a database system which will provide relevant information to the operator for ultimate decision making. Means for validation will be based on the following KPIs: Minimize the makespan by up to 30%; Positioning precision down to the order of magnitude of centimeters. Technological Objective 2: Human-system interface. The SEI project aims at designing and developing an innovative and user-friendly control and vision interface, supporting remote access from portable devices. AR (Augmented Reality) technology will be used, superimposing virtual/real information to the real environment. This will enable the operator(s) to assess, query, interpret, adjust, and control the mission execution in real time and in a cost-effective way. Means for validation will be based on the following KPIs: Increased interface responsiveness (0.5 sec); Maximized user-friendliness. Technological Objective 3: Ice detection accuracy. Ice detection will be done by a hyperspectral camera. This camera exploits the characteristics of reflectance of the ice, for instance in the near-infrared spectrum, as described for example in the US patent document US5500530A (https://patents.google.com/patent/US5500530). These sensors with emitter and receivers that exploit the reflectance of ice are particularly useful since they are quite robust with regard to the vibrations of the UAV and can be used also in movement conditions. In particular, it is possible to determine the spectral signature of the surfaces contaminated by ice, snow, or frost, since each substance has a different spectral form of its own. The spectral image gathered by the hyperspectral camera contains detailed information both in the spatial domain and in the spectral domain. This enables the determination of the spectral signature of the surfaces of the airplane and of the various types of contamination and correlation of the values of radiance detected by the sensor with the effective type of surface: frost, clear ice, fresh snow, etc. Market Objective 1: Improvement of environmental impact. In the case of deicing, all chemical formulations currently approved for aircraft deicing can have environmental implications. A lean application of deicing fluids, deriving from the exact detection of aircraft contaminated areas, could save about 50/60% of these fluids, with a huge positive impact for the environment. Means for validation will be based on the following KPI: 50% reduction in deicing fluid consumption.