A Caltech Library Service

Onboard Safety Guarantees for Racing Drones: High-Speed Geofencing With Control Barrier Functions

Singletary, Andrew and Swann, Aiden and Chen, Yuxiao and Ames, Aaron D. (2022) Onboard Safety Guarantees for Racing Drones: High-Speed Geofencing With Control Barrier Functions. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 7 (2). pp. 2897-2904. ISSN 2377-3766. doi:10.1109/LRA.2022.3144777.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This letter details the theory and implementation behind practically ensuring safety of remotely piloted racing drones. We demonstrate robust and practical safety guarantees on a 7” racing drone at speeds exceeding 100 km/h, utilizing only online computations on a 10 g micro-controller. To achieve this goal, we utilize the framework of control barrier functions (CBFs) which give guaranteed safety encoded as forward set invariance. To make this methodology practically applicable, we present an implicitly defined CBF which leverages backup controllers to enable gradient-free evaluations that ensure safety. The method applied to hardware results in smooth, minimally conservative alterations of the pilots’ desired inputs, enabling them to push the limits of their drone without fear of crashing. Moreover, the method works in conjunction with the preexisting flight controller, resulting in unaltered flight when there are no nearby safety risks. Additional benefits include safety and stability of the drone when losing line-of-sight or in the event of radio failure.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Singletary, Andrew0000-0001-6635-4256
Chen, Yuxiao0000-0001-5276-7156
Ames, Aaron D.0000-0003-0848-3177
Additional Information:© 2022 IEEE. Manuscript received September 9, 2021; accepted December 27, 2021. Date of publication January 25, 2022; date of current version February 2, 2022. This letter was recommended for publication by Editor Jun Zhang upon evaluation of the Associate Editor and reviewers’ comments. This work was supported by in part by AeroVironment and in part by NSF CPS under Award #1932091.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Robot safety, aerial systems: mechanics and control
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220224-200854184
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A. Singletary, A. Swann, Y. Chen and A. D. Ames, "Onboard Safety Guarantees for Racing Drones: High-Speed Geofencing With Control Barrier Functions," in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 2897-2904, April 2022, doi: 10.1109/LRA.2022.3144777
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113592
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:28 Feb 2022 17:35
Last Modified:14 Apr 2022 19:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page