Course Overview

COVID-19 Instructions for ECE 445 Senior Design

We require everyone who uses the 445 lab in ECEB to adhere to the following lab policies regarding COVID-19.

  • You must wear a mask at all times while in the lab.
  • You must clean and disinfect your workstation when you are finished with it.
  • Welcome!

    Welcome to ECE 445! If you've looked at the course Calendar, you've probably already noticed that this class is quite different from most other classes in the department. The class only meets as a whole for the first few weeks of the semester. During these lectures you will meet the Course Staff, learn about specific assignments, requirements, and resources for the course, and have a chance to meet other students to share ideas and form teams. These are some of the most important weeks for the class since the decisions you make during this time will determine what you'll get out of this class and, in many ways, how much you'll enjoy it.

    Outside of lecture, you are expected to be working on your own to develop ideas and form teams. You are also expected to actively participate on the web board to exchange ideas, receive feedback from course staff, and eventually get your project idea approved. Once your team has a project approved, you will be assigned a TA, with whom you will have weekly meetings. Think of your TA as a project manager. Keep in mind that they are not there to do the work for you. Rather, they are there to keep you on track, point you towards resources (both within and outside of the department), and evaluate the result of your efforts.

    Expectations and Requirements

    We have high expectations for students participating in ECE 445. You are soon to be alumni of one of the top ECE departments of the world. Our alumni hold themselves to high technical and professional standards of conduct. In general, projects are expected to be safe, ethical, and have a level of design complexity commensurate with the rigor of the ECE Illinois curriculum. Requirements for specific assignments due throughout the semester can be found by looking through the Grading Scheme for the course. Please read through this documentation well before each assignment is due. Specific due dates can be found on the course Calendar.

    Below are a few words of wisdom to keep in mind throughout the semester to increase your enjoyment and success in the course:

    Decentralized Systems for Ground & Arial Vehicles (DSGAV)

    Mingda Ma, Alvin Sun, Jialiang Zhang

    Featured Project

    # Team Members

    * Yixiao Sun (yixiaos3)

    * Mingda Ma (mingdam2)

    * Jialiang Zhang (jz23)

    # Problem Statement

    Autonomous delivery over drone networks has become one of the new trends which can save a tremendous amount of labor. However, it is very difficult to scale things up due to the inefficiency of multi-rotors collaboration especially when they are carrying payload. In order to actually have it deployed in big cities, we could take advantage of the large ground vehicle network which already exists with rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. The roof of an automobile has plenty of spaces to hold regular size packages with magnets, and the drone network can then optimize for flight time and efficiency while factoring in ground vehicle plans. While dramatically increasing delivery coverage and efficiency, such strategy raises a challenging problem of drone docking onto moving ground vehicles.

    # Solution

    We aim at tackling a particular component of this project given the scope and time limitation. We will implement a decentralized multi-agent control system that involves synchronizing a ground vehicle and a drone when in close proximity. Assumptions such as knowledge of vehicle states will be made, as this project is aiming towards a proof of concepts of a core challenge to this project. However, as we progress, we aim at lifting as many of those assumptions as possible. The infrastructure of the lab, drone and ground vehicle will be provided by our kind sponsor Professor Naira Hovakimyan. When the drone approaches the target and starts to have visuals on the ground vehicle, it will automatically send a docking request through an RF module. The RF receiver on the vehicle will then automatically turn on its assistant devices such as specific LED light patterns which aids motion synchronization between ground and areo vehicles. The ground vehicle will also periodically send out locally planned paths to the drone for it to predict the ground vehicle’s trajectory a couple of seconds into the future. This prediction can help the drone to stay within close proximity to the ground vehicle by optimizing with a reference trajectory.

    ### The hardware components include:

    Provided by Research Platforms

    * A drone

    * A ground vehicle

    * A camera

    Developed by our team

    * An LED based docking indicator

    * RF communication modules (xbee)

    * Onboard compute and communication microprocessor (STM32F4)

    * Standalone power source for RF module and processor

    # Required Circuit Design

    We will integrate the power source, RF communication module and the LED tracking assistant together with our microcontroller within our PCB. The circuit will also automatically trigger the tracking assistant to facilitate its further operations. This special circuit is designed particularly to demonstrate the ability for the drone to precisely track and dock onto the ground vehicle.

    # Criterion for Success -- Stages

    1. When the ground vehicle is moving slowly in a straight line, the drone can autonomously take off from an arbitrary location and end up following it within close proximity.

    2. Drones remains in close proximity when the ground vehicle is slowly turning (or navigating arbitrarily in slow speed)

    3. Drone can dock autonomously onto the ground vehicle that is moving slowly in straight line

    4. Drone can dock autonomously onto the ground vehicle that is slowly turning

    5. Increase the speed of the ground vehicle and successfully perform tracking and / or docking

    6. Drone can pick up packages while flying synchronously to the ground vehicle

    We consider project completion on stage 3. The stages after that are considered advanced features depending on actual progress.

    Project Videos