Unmanned aerial systems are more and more being incorporated into maritime military operations, notably due to the advantages they pose for tactical planning. Technological advances have rendered these unmanned aerial vehicles fairly easy to operate for in-flight manoeuvres, as now advanced software tools are available to assist the human pilots in order to avoid crashes or to optimize the flight performance or in some cases to completely automate the flight operations. However, in comparison with land operations, one aspect remains a stringent bottleneck for the widespread deployment of unmanned aerial systems for maritime operations: the capability for these unmanned aerial systems to automatically take off and land on vessels in all kind of environmental conditions. Indeed, landing a relatively small aerial vehicle (that is therefore inherently very receptive to wind gusts) on the pitching and rolling deck of a moving ship is a very difficult control problem that requires the careful consideration of the kinematics and dynamics of both the unmanned aerial vehicle and the ship. In response to this requirement, this research study proposes to provide a proof of concept solution and practical implementation for a helicopter-type drone with the capability to land autonomously on the Belgian Navy vessels.

This project is a collaboration project between the Royal Military Academy and the Belgian Navy.

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