Landing Zone Analysis for Autonomous Medevac

This site gives an overview of the landing site selection technology developed by the CMU Field Robotics Center for Piasecki Aircraft Corp.

In order for an autonomous medevac system to land near a casualty in uncontrolled circumstances, it must first be able to identify a suitable landing site.  Our approach uses a laser rangefinding scanner coupled to an inertial navigation system.  As the medevac helicopter flies over the scene near the casualty, it scans the terrain to build a three-dimensional map.  Our analysis software then chooses among potential sites based on slope and smoothness, the surrounding obstacles, and the proximity to the casualty.

For experimentation we mounted our sensor suite on a Eurocopter EC135 (provided by Stat MedEvac) twin-turbine helicopter norrmally used for ambulance missions.  With the assistance of an expert Navy pilot, we scanned and evaluated many types of terrain for potential landing sites.  The pilot provided expert feedback on the suitability of different landing zones.  We scanned a total of 9 sites in 8 hours of flight time.  For each site, we logged the laser survey, high-resolution video from the laser's point of view, and manual photographs/video from the cabin.

The links above give illustrated case studies for our system's analysis of varied and increasingly complex terrain.


Team: Sanjiv Singh, Sebastian Scherer, Benjamin Grocholsky, Lyle Chamberlain

Contact: Sanjiv Singh - ssingh [ at ] cmu . edu