A Generic ROS Based System for Rapid Development and Testing of Algorithms for Autonomous Ground and Aerial Vehicles

  • Pawel Ladosz
  • Matthew CoombesEmail author
  • Jean Smith
  • Michael Hutchinson
Part of the Studies in Computational Intelligence book series (SCI, volume 778)


This chapter presents a Robot Operating System (ROS) framework for development and testing of autonomous control functions. The developed system offers the user significantly reduced development times over prior methods. Previously, development of a new function from theory to flight test required a range of different test systems which offered minimal integration; this would have required great effort and expense. A generic system has been developed that can operate a large range of robotic systems. By design, a developed controller can be taken from numerical simulation, through Software/Hardware in the loop simulation to flight test, with no adjustment of code required. The flexibility and power of ROS was combined with the Robotic Systems toolbox from MATLAB/Simulink, Linux embedded systems and a commercially available autopilot. This affords the user a low cost, simple, highly flexible and reconfigurable system. Furthermore, by separating experimental controllers from the autopilot at the hardware level, flight safety is maintained as manual override is available at all times, regardless of faults in any experimental systems. This chapter details the system and demonstrates the functionality with two case studies.


Autopilot Disturbance Observer-based Control (DOBC) Pixhawk Turtlebot Source Estimation Algorithm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Prof Wen-Hua Chen and Dr Cunjia Liu of Loughborough University for their valuable discussions during this work.


  1. 1.
    G. Cai, B.M. Chen, T.H. Lee, M. Dong, Design and implementation of a hardware-in-the-loop simulation system for small-scale UAV helicopters. Mechatronics 19(7), 1057–1066 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. Shim, H. Chung, H.J. Kim, S. Sastry, Autonomous exploration in unknown urban environments for unmanned aerial vehicles, in Proceedings of the AIAA GN&C Conference, 2005Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. How, E. King, Y. Kuwata, Flight demonstrations of cooperative control for UAV teams, in AIAA 3rd Unmanned Unlimited Technical Conference, Workshop and Exhibit, 2004Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    J.P. How, B. Bethke, A. Frank, D. Dale, J. Vian, Real-time indoor autonomous vehicle test environment. IEEE Control Syst. 28(2), 51–64 (2008). AprilMathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    N. Bezzo, B. Griffin, P. Cruz, J. Donahue, R. Fierro, J. Wood, A cooperative heterogeneous mobile wireless mechatronic system. IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron. 19(1), 20–31 (2014). FebCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    D. Kingston, R. Beard, A. Beard, T. McLain, M. Larsen, W. Ren, Autonomous vehicle technologies for small fixed wing UAV, in AIAA Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication (2003), pp. 2003–6559Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Y.C. Paw, G.J. Balas, Development and application of an integrated framework for small UAV flight control development. Mechatronics 21, 789 – 802 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    A.M. Mehta, K.S.J. Pister, Warpwing: a complete open source control platform for miniature robots, in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010 (2010), pp. 5169 –5174Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    turtlebot. Accessed 14 Dec 2017
  10. 10.
    Vicon_bridge. Accessed 14 Dec 2017
  11. 11.
    vrpn_client_ros. Accessed 14 Dec 2017
  12. 12.
    Mavros. Accessed 14 Dec 2017
  13. 13.
    J. Smith, C. Liu, W.-H. Chen, Disturbance observer based control for gust alleviation of a small fixed-wing UAS, in 2016 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS). IEEE (2016), pp. 97–106Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    W.-H. Chen, D.J. Ballance, P.J. Gawthrop, J. O’Reilly, A nonlinear disturbance observer for robotic manipulators. IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron. 47(4), 932–938 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    J. Yang, A. Zolotas, W.-H. Chen, K. Michail, S. Li, Robust control of nonlinear MAGLEV suspension system with mismatched uncertainties via DOBC approach. ISA Trans. 50(3), 389–396 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    M. Hutchinson, O. Hyondong, W.-H. Chen, A review of source term estimation methods for atmospheric dispersion events using static or mobile sensors. Inf. Fus. 36, 130–148 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    H. Ishida, Y. Wada, H. Matsukura, Chemical sensing in robotic applications: a review. IEEE Sens. J. 12(11), 3163–3173 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    K.J. Allwine, M.J. Leach, L.W. Stockham, J.S. Shinn, R.P. Hosker, J.F. Bowers, J.C. Pace, J7. 1 overview of joint urban 2003–an atmospheric dispersion study in oklahoma city (2004)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    rosserial. Accessed 14 Dec 2017
  20. 20.
    M.S. Arulampalam, S. Maskell, N. Gordon, T. Clapp, A tutorial on particle filters for online nonlinear/non-gaussian bayesian tracking. IEEE Trans. Signal Process. 50(2), 174–188 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    C. Wang, L. Yin, L. Zhang, D. Xiang, R. Gao, Metal oxide gas sensors: sensitivity and influencing factors. Sensors 10(3), 2088–2106 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    M. Vergassola, E. Villermaux, B.I. Shraiman, ‘Infotaxis’ as a strategy for searching without gradients. Nature 445(7126), 406 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    B. Ristic, S. Arulampalam, N.J. Gordon, Beyond the Kalman Filter: Particle Filters for Tracking Applications (Artech House, Boston, 2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pawel Ladosz
    • 1
  • Matthew Coombes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean Smith
    • 1
  • Michael Hutchinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aeronautical and Automotive EngineeringLoughborough UniversityLoughborough, LeicestershireUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations