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D-FaLL: Distributed Flying and Localisation Lab

D-FaLL: Distributed Flying And Localisation Laboratory

About us

The Distributed Flying and Localisation Laboratory has been running since 2014 with the goal of creating a space where students can learn, experiment, and develop new ideas on the topic of Flying Machine and their Localisation. The project pursued by the students here always maintain a focus on how to handle the challenges of a distributed architecture when there are many agents simultaneously flying and localising. To give you an idea of our lab environment, this is a photo taken recently:

Image of our laboratory. Image unable display for some reason :-(
A photo of our laboratory, taken August 2016

Goals of D-FaLL

The D-FaLL project aims at the real-world implementation of distributed estimation and control algorithms for a fleet of nano-quadcopters (the "Crazyflies"), and their localisation via Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) technology (the "Decawave module"). The focus is to build a system that truly embodies the complexities of distributed estimation and control. Therefore, each flying agent is able to take measurements with on-board sensors, make decisions via on-board computation, and communicate via an ad-hoc network. The goal for localisation is to develop a system that is based on low-cost, off-the-shelf components and enables an arbitrary number of flying agents to simultaneously estimate their location with sub-centimetre accuracy. Think of an indoor GPS system, but with increased accuracy and capable of being used indoors.

The D-FaLL project also aims at making all the underlying theory and experimental set-up open source and readily available. We will soon post a link here to a git repository with our latest stable-code, and we will resources explaining the underlying theory on the "Tutorials" section of this page.

The equipment

The following is a collection of photos to briefly give you an idea of the equipment work with in D-FaLL.
Image of a crazyflie. Image unable display for some reason :-(
We use the Crazyflie 2.0 as our nano-quadcopter because it is packs a lot of features into a small device, was developed with research in mind, and is reasonably priced. More information about the Crazyflie can be found on the Bitcraze website.

Image of a UWB module. Image unable display for some reason :-(
We use the Decawave DWM1000 module for sending and receiving UWB signals because it is at cutting-edge for making this technology affordable and ubiquitous, and offers a useful set of features for developing localisation algorithms. The DWM1000 module is seen mounted at the top of the circuit board and more information can be found on the Decawave website.

Image of a Vicon camera. Image unable display for some reason :-(
Vicon is a company that makes motion capture systems which can track the location and pose of moving object with sub-millimetre accuracy at frequency of up to 320Hz, and make this localisation information available in real-time for feedback control applications. These impressive capabilities of a Vicon Motion Capture system come at a high price and thus narrow the plausible applications. The goal of the UWB-based localisation endeavour is to create a system that offers different trade-off between cost and accuracy. We have a Vicon Motion Capture system here are D-FaLL and use it to both aid the development of new algorithms, and to verify the performance of algorithms implemented on our devices.

Getting involved

If you are excited about concepts we pursue here at D-FaLL, then see our open SA/MA projects. We look for students who are motivated by our goals, are committed to implementing algorithms on real hardware (this is often a time-intensive endeavour), and offer strong coding skills.