This work is focused on developing a new type of parafoil terminal guidance algorithm that addresses the need for robust guidance by exploiting massively-parallel processing. The terminal guidance planning method we have proposed relies on online, massively-parallel Monte Carlo simulation to predict impact point variance resulting from unknown or changing wind conditions. These Monte Carlo simulations are designed to be performed on embedded graphics processing units, which are increasingly being used for general purpose computation. In our previous work, we exercised the GPU-based control system to explore precision landing in drop zones constrained by terrain obstructions. Results showed that the guidance system shaped the terminal trajectories successfully so as to minimize the probability of collision with terrain given wind disturbances. This capability is highly attractive for challenging drop zones that may be surrounded by mountainous terrain.
Given promising results in simulation, we recently flew a custom autonomous parafoil equipped with an embedded GPU to demonstrate performance in flight experiments. These successful flight tests, the first of their kind to incorporate onboard massively-parallel processing, have demonstrated the viability of stochastic control on fielded parafoil systems.
- J. Rogers, N. Slegers, “Robust Parafoil Terminal Guidance Using Massively Parallel Processing,” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 36, No. 5, September-October 2013, pp. 1336-1345.
- N. Slegers, J. Rogers, “Terminal Guidance for Complex Dropzones Using Massively Parallel Processing,” AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference and Exhibit, Daytona Beach, FL, March 25-28, 2013.
- J. Rogers, “Massively-Parallel Stochastic Control and Automation: A New Paradigm in Robotics,” GPU Technology Conference, San Jose, CA, March 24-27, 2014.