We keep on speaking on the KFU OpenLab researchers and their projects. Today we are going to discuss laboratories that develop communication systems, energy storages, and simulate locality for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). We met with A.P. Dmitry Chikrin, the head of the project, KFU senior researcher, and spoke about the OpenLab activities.
As we have found out, graduate degrees holders participate in the development of upgrading drones devices together with the students of the High School of Information Technologies and Information System. At the premises of the ITIS there was founded a student engineering department; working there kicks the students off at the very beginning of their future career.
Moving on to the projects developed in these laboratories, we should remind that there are three of them – “Andromeda”, “Rainbow”, and “Flywheel”.
Andromeda Project is about the development of drone communication systems. By Dmitry Chikrin, much attention is currently paid to the effective operation of small and micro UAVs with explosion engines. The coverage area of such drones is max 2-3 km as they are limited by their accumulator capacity (40 minutes). In this regard, they launch more drones to provide adequate terrain reconnaissance. For this purpose they should be maximum effective. The challenge experts are to meet is to provide adequate communication able to feed large files, HD video in particular.
The main question is caused by the communication system instability during simultaneous receiving information from numerous UAVs. Taking into consideration the high price of UAVs, we should estimate whether all required devices will work properly before testing drones.
Within Andromeda project special software is being developed to help in revealing any weaknesses that can disturb its stability, and as a result to improve it. A possibility to know weaknesses in advance merges due to the fact that this software simulates real conditions to a high precision – the locality, would-be location of UAVs. All the equipment operates like in a real situation. It is not modulation; it is emulation of real operating environment for the wireless equipment
As mentioned above, small and micro UAVs have an essential defect of small coverage area limited by the accumulator capacity. Scientists and students address this problem within the Flywheel Project.
In the laboratory they develop special software to model a flywheel, a high-capacity miniature kinetic energy storage, of required parametres.
The operation concept of flywheel energy storage is based on accelerating the wheel by means of external energy. The energy is gradually accumulating and then can be extracted as electrical or mechanical energy for a short or long period of time. It is connected with the electrical machine that charges and upcharges it. The quantity of energy stored in the flywheel depends on the weight, dimensions, and rotation speed.
Super flywheel is traditionally of the form of a drum located in a vacuum camera to lower friction loss. To produce a flywheel, traditional steel or titanium tape can be used, as well as modern carbon or even diamond strings reeled on the elastic centre of high one-axle resistance materials.
It is challenging to use a flexible flywheel technology and the energy of the charged rotating flywheel. This eliminates the conversion cost, to raise power efficiency, and to produce energy during the spinup.
Using traditional battery for UAVs can provide up to 0.5 MJ/kg of storage density, that by xcopterCalc can be enough for a certain model for an approximately 30 minutes flight of a 10-kg drone. A flywheel can increase this time to 1.5 hours with the same dimensions and weight of the UAV; it fundamentally extends the area of application of modern unmanned platforms of various types.
Rainbow Project focuses on the synthesis and transformation of images of various spectral range coming from space surveillance systems. KFU researchers and students program software for dynamic update of 3D terrain model and mutual updating of images received in different spectral ranges - optical, spectral, and infrared. Besides, the project performers have a goal to create an object detection and classification system, that will also define the distribution limits for industrial disasters (fire area, chemical hazards, etc.)