Imperial College London develops sophisticated drone test rig arena by LG Motion

12 September 2018

LG Motion has helped build a state-of-the-art drone test rig arena, putting the UK at the forefront of the aerial robotics industry.

The team was presented with the unusual challenge of designing and constructing a massive 12m by 5m frame at the first-of its-kind arena in Europe at Imperial College in London. The now recently-opened Brahmal Vasudevan Multi Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena enables engineers to test the next generation of aerial robotics for urban environments and extreme conditions.

The researchers in the arena can simulate different terrains in the air, ocean and on land. The space also enables them to create extreme conditions such as fire, smoke and heat to simulate how the next generation of drones will perform in harsh environments.

The project required a massive 12m by 5m movable frame to be both designed and constructed with a range of specifications.

Firstly it was required to move under control with a load of 200kg. It also needed to accommodate high-speed digital cameras mounted on to the frame to capture and record the movement of the drones being tested. The structure and motion control components also needed to be constructed to ensure minimal deflection, as small errors in movement would be magnified in operation. The structure used modular aluminium profiles from MiniTec with four MiniTec belt drive actuators mounted on the corners of the installation.

The MiniTec LR 90 linear guide, consisted of a single rail with shaft fixation 2 timing belt pulleys with 2 tooth belt-tensioner with an LR 16-90 slide and tooth belt.

Running the rig is kept under precise control with an Arcus PMX-4EX-SA multi axis controller. Encoder feed-back from each axis ensures that the axes are synchronised or “electronically coupled”.

Overall, the construction and design of the motion control components will now deliver more capability than is currently required but it was felt desirable to build in some “future proofing”.

The results achieved by the LG Motion engineers after being presented with the complex task in helping to build the arena is testament to their capability and adaptability.