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Real Time Control Framework Using Android

One potential application for a smartphone-type device is a flight management and control computer for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The hardware employed in most smartphones and tablets has the capabilities necessary to fly an air vehicle without user interaction. The user can pre-program in a flight plan and the smartphone will do the rest.

In the past, this real time control application has been done using many separate sensor packages and processors, but never on a single, stand-alone device. Also, capabilities such as the high definition camera present on most smartphones can take photographs and store them on the phone for retrieval later.

This opens many potential markets for a device of this nature. Farmers that have large properties could use this to see if their fences are broken. The general public could use the application to take aerial views of their properties. Law enforcement could be an application for this project; to map out house fires or other potentially harmful situations before lives are put at stake. The real challenge with using a smartphone as a flight management and control computer is the real time control of the aircraft.

In order to accomplish real time control, the computer must have the sensors necessary for real-time control, a fast processor, capable of running a periodic process at frequencies greater than 10Hz (the faster the better) and the ability to read the sensor input and act on it during the time slice given for that process.

With a multi-threaded, embedded, real-time operating system, this typically is not a problem (given a fast enough processor and enough inputs for all the sensor data). Doing the same type of calculations and control on a consumer product made to run many applications at the same time is difficult. This thesis will demonstrate how a real time control process was implemented on an Android phone.
Source: Marquette University
Authors: Aaron Pittenger

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