E384 – Mission Planning

In this page the Mission Planning options are discussed.

The E384 is fully capable of performing fully autonomous missions. When using the E384, fully manual (FBW-A) flight is also an option. The E384 can use combination of manual (FBW-A) flight and autonomous flight. Examining the flight options will allow the user to choose the best solution for the intended use.

–The discussion begins with a fully autonomous mission.

-The Ground Station Manager plans a mission with an Auto Takeoff WP, a Land WP, and anything in between. The user in charge of physically throwing the E384 (the “Launcher”) will prepare himself, in a ready-to-launch position. The Ground Station Manager will change the mode to AUTO (either using the transmitter, or using the ground station computer). The Ground Station Manager will communicate to the Launcher of the mode change. The Launcher waits for the motor to reach full throttle and launches the E384 firmly at about a 15 degree angle into a headwind.  The E384 begins gaining altitude until it has reached the takeoff altitude. The E384 proceeds by traveling to the next WP. It continues through the WPs until it has reached the final WP, the Land WP. The E384 touches down. The E384 Flight Crew briefly celebrates another successful collection of data. One member of the E384 Flight Crew travels to the E384. The member disconnects the battery for safe transportation.

The advantage of the fully autonomous flight is apparent. Minimal user input is needed, as the E384 takes care of itself. It is important to discuss further the Auto Takeoff and Auto Land process.

-Auto Takeoff will be perfect, so long as the Launcher launches the E384 without too much error. Errors can be seen if the E384 is launched with a large bank angle. Errors can be seen if the E384 is launched with a pitch angle that is too great or not great enough. Errors can be seen if the E384 is not launched strongly enough, or if the E384 is thrown downwind. The E384 should be gliding out of the users hand. While the E384’s Auto Takeoff has room for errors, it is possible to have too many Launcher errors for a clean takeoff.

-Auto Land is a useful tool. The Ground Station Manager uses the Setup Landing button to set the landing WPs. There are aspects involved in Auto Land that should be realized.

The second is that there are uncontrollable factors in play. Google Maps (or other “Maps”) will not maintain perfectly accurate terrain. This means that it is important to allow for a landing strip that offers some forgiveness. Another factor of note is altitude. The altitude will not be perfect for two major reasons. The E384 considers 0 m altitude to be that of the altitude where it was given power. If the landing strip is of different altitude than that of the start up altitude, it must be taken into account. The other altitude factor is the E384 altitude readings. There may be discrepancies between actual altitude and E384 altitude readings. The E384 could touch down before intended, or glide past the intended landing target. Again, it is important to choose a landing strip that offers some forgiveness.

% The user can take manual (FBW-A) control of the E384 at any time. The E384 mode will be switched to FBW-A and the pilot will control the E384. %

–Attention is turned toward a fully manual (FBW-A) flight.

-The Ground Station Manager may or may not have planned a mission. The Launcher prepares to throw the E384. The Launcher communicates with the pilot until preparedness is reached. The Launcher throws the E384. The Pilot increases throttle and begins increasing altitude. The Pilot manually (FBW-A) controls the E384 at all times. The Pilot flies in any manner deemed necessary. The Pilot brings the E384 down for a landing.

-While a fully manual (FBW-A) flight will not yield data collection, it can increase the Pilot’s flight skill. This may prove valuable in situations where a manual (FBW-A) takeoff or landing is ideal.

-FBW-A takeoff will hold one advantage if the Pilot is skilled. With a skilled Pilot, this will allow the Launcher to commit more errors while still finding success.

-FBW-A landing holds an advantage if the Pilot is skilled. With a skilled Pilot the E384 may land more accurately.

–Lastly, combination flight is discussed.

-The E384 Flight Team may decide manual (FBW-A) flight is ideal in certain situations. The scenario considered is that of manual (FBW-A) takeoff, automatic survey, followed by manual (FBW-A) landing. In this scenario the Pilot performs a manual takeoff. After communicating with the rest of the Flight Crew, the E384 is placed into AUTO. The E384 flies the pre-programmed survey WPs. When the E384 completes the mission it will return to the area that it was given power and proceed by circling that area at 100m altitude. The Pilot regains manual (FBW-A) control when the mode is switched to FBW-A. This is done either from the ground station computer, or from the Pilot’s transmitter. The Pilot maintains control and brings the E384 down for a landing.

-All combinations of manual (FBW-A) and autonomous flight can be realized.

–In conclusion, the E384 can fly fully autonomously, fully manual (FBW-A), and a combination of autonomous and manual (FBW-A) flight. With a skilled pilot at the helm, the E384 can takeoff and land under harsher conditions than an automatic takeoff and automatic landing.

Now that mission planning understanding has been increased, the stages of flight and the WP layout will be detailed.