Planning a mission

The DeltaQuad has been designed to fly autonomously, this is achieved by planning and executing missions. Missions are set through the Ground Control Station. They can be created and sent to the vehicle directly, loaded from an existing mission plan, or saved to a mission plan. This section covers the basics of planning a mission for the DeltaQuad. For advanced usage of the mission planning features please review the QGroundControl mission planning documentation.

Preparing a mission plan

Before the mission plan can be created, the following steps should be taken to ensure safe execution;

  1. A mission plan should only be executed after a thorough inspection of the entire mission on site. All altitude differences and obstacles should be known and taken into account.
  2. Missions must be allowed to be executed in accordance with local laws and regulations.
  3. The mission path must be free of obstructions for at least 100 meters in each horizontal direction.
  4. During fixed wing flight the vehicle should stay 50m above ground level, near the end of the mission, to reduce landing energy consumed, an altitude of 20m above ground is recommended.
  5. To ensure the safety systems can function properly, the takeoff altitude should be at minimum 50 meters above ground level.
  6. The takeoff and land sites must consist of a level, flat surface that is free of obstructions for at least 5x5 meters.
  7. The weather conditions must fall within the maximum allowed conditions.
  8. If the mission is flown in wind conditions that exceeds 12kph, both the front and back transition path must be planned in such a way that the vehicle is pointing with its nose towards the wind while performing the transition.
  9. The intended mission should not consume more then 85% of the total energy available.
  10. At any point in the mission the vehicle must be able to return to its takeoff point in a straight line on its current altitude.
  11. At any point in the mission the vehicle must be able to initiate an unscheduled landing without causing damage to itself or its environment.

Video instruction

For a video instruction on planning a mission please visit https://youtu.be/fgGukJIx8NQ

DeltaQuad Mission Validator

After planning your mission you can validate it using the DeltaQuad Mission Validator

The Validator will check your mission for feasibility, sanity and safety. It will also check weather conditions, terrain altitudes and no-fly zones. The DeltaQuad Mission Validator can not be used as an authoritative validation, it is provided as an additional verification system and all validations should be verified manually.

Best practices and tips

  • A vertical takeoff and landing consumes significantly more energy than a fixed wing flight. For maximum efficiency an altitude between 20 and 30 meters is recommended for landing. A takeoff altitude should be at minimum 60 meters for all safety systems to function.
  • The altitude in a VTOL LAND command defines the expected touch down altitude, the back transition (fixed wing to quadcopter flight) in this command is performed at the altitude of the last waypoint.
  • Most wind forecasts are based on ground level wind. Even 10 meters above the ground the wind can be significantly stronger.
  • Test your mission in the DeltaQuad Simulator before executing the mission. This will give an approximation of how the mission will be flown by the vehicle.
  • Validate your mission in the DeltaQuad Mission Validator

Plan view

Planning a mission can be done from the Ground Control Station by entering the Plan View.

The Plan View is used to plan autonomous missions for you vehicle. Once the mission is planned and sent to the vehicle, switch to the Fly View to perform pre-flight checks and fly the mission.

The image above shows a simple mission which starts with a takeoff, flies through two waypoints and then lands at the indicated location.

The steps for creating a missions are:

  1. Change to Plan View.
  2. Add commands to the mission and edit as needed.
  3. Send the mission to the vehicle.
  4. Change to Fly View and fly your mission.

Plan Tools

On the left edge of the screen you will see the Plan Tools. The order of tools from top to bottom is:

  • Add commands
  • Survey
  • Sync
  • Center map
  • Map type
  • Zoom in/out

Add Commands

Click to activate the Add Commands tool. While active, clicking in the map will add new mission commands at the clicked location. The tool will stay active until you click it again.

  • The first waypoint will be a VTOL TAKEOFF command. This waypoint will be the position the DeltaQuad flies to after it has ascended vertically to the altitude defined in this first waypoint. i.e. if the first waypoint is set at 60 meters altitude and 300m north of the current position, the DeltaQuad will ascend to 60 meters, transition to forward flight and proceed 300m north.

  • Select add waypoint button.

  • Click on the map to set desired position.

  • Set the desired transition altitude. A minimum altitude of 25 meters is recommended, the takeoff altitude should never be below 20m.

Note: The first waypoint should be at minimum 300m, and at maximum 800m away from the takeoff position.
Note:
The vehicle has been designed to transition into the direction it was when positioned on the ground. This allows the operator to perform upwind transitions, regardless of the mission plan. During the transition phase, the vehicle may travel as much as 300 meters. The mission plan should account for this.
Note: During the transition phase the vehicles heading may change due to wind influence. The mission plan should account for this.

Set intermediate waypoints.

The DeltaQuad will proceed to these waypoints, continuing in fixed-wing mode.

  • Click on the map to select desired position.
  • Set the desired altitude the vehicle should have when reaching this position.

Note: the vehicle will fly from its current altitude to the defined altitude linearly and reach the target altitude when arriving at the waypoint.

Note: The ground control station will indicate the Gradient (percentage of climb along the path). The gradient should not exceed 10%.

Set landing waypoint

  • Click on the map to select desired position.

  • Change the mission item to a VTOL LAND command.

  • Select the drop-down menu icon on the last mission item (waypoint).

  • Choose category VTOL

  • Select VTOL transition and land

  • Set altitude. The altitude in this item is the relative altitude to the home position where the vehicle is expected to touch down. When landing on the same altitude where the takeoff occurred this can be left at 0.

Sync

The Sync tools allows you to move missions back and forth to your Vehicle or a file. Before you fly a mission you must be sure to upload your mission to your vehicle. The tool will change to have an "!" within it to indicate that you have changes to your mission which you have not sent to your vehicle.

The Sync tool provides the following functionality:

  • Send to Vehicle
  • Load from Vehicle
  • Save to File
  • Load from File
  • Remove All

To ensure the mission was correctly sent to your vehicle it is recommended to perform a "Load from vehicle" after performing a "Send to vehicle" and verify the correct mission is loaded.

Mission Command List

On the right edge of the display is the list of mission commands for this mission. You can click on one of these to edit the values for the item. Above are a set of options to switch between editing the Mission and GeoFence. Rally Points are currently not supported.

Mission Command Editors

Click on a mission command to show it's editor which allows you to specify the values for the command. You can also change the type of the command by clicking on the command name, "Waypoint" in this example. This allows you to pick from the set up available commands to build your mission. To the right of the command name is a menu you can open by clicking. This menu provides you access to additional options such as Insert and Delete.

Planned Home Position

A mission always has a "Planned Home Position" associated with it. This is used to simulate the home position of the vehicle such that waypoint lines can be drawn correctly to the first actual waypoint. Keep in mind that the actual home position for a mission is set by the vehicle at the takeoff position and may differ from the "planned" home position.

Mission Display

In the center of the map you will see a visualization of your current mission. You can click on the indicators to select them and also drag them around to move.

Mission Height Display

At the bottom of the map you will see a representation of the height differences between your mission commands. The white bars below the mission items indicate the relative height above ground level. The ground level is an estimation based on satellite surveys, these do not account for structures like buildings, power lines or trees. A visual on-site inspection must always be performed.

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