PATHfinder

Design and Implementation of early Warning Systems
MTD

The Master Tethered Drone

UD

The Underwater Drone

RD

The Rover Drone

AD

The Aerial Drone

A drone photography
on fire
Specular light Reflecting
Evening view of fiery eruption of volcano, with lava running down the mountain slopes.
Crack in the road tarmac
Young man piloting a drone in nature

About Us

PATHfinder

The Civil Protection Competence Centre of the University of Florence (CPC-UNIFI), as part of the National Italian Service of Civil Protection, has a firm reputation for its research expertise and operational problem-solving approach for safeguarding the integrity of life, goods, buildings and environment from any damage or risk of damage arising from natural and anthropic disasters. In such a context of emergency support, which includes design and implementation of early warning systems as well as application of advanced technologies and methods for first responder techniques for Civil Protection purposes, CPC-UNIFI asked collaboration to Sistematica S.p.A. to build a solution in order to have early warning and persistent surveillance during disaster recovery and emergency response scenarios. Accordingly, the aim of the proposed PATHfinder solution is to design and implement a cooperative system for challenging scenarios (difficult access and with a wide extension), with a large data flow generated by different sensors that may be used in parallel, with real-time and timely delivery information of the observed scenario, suitable for persistent surveillance, monitoring, emergency response and for the adoption of proper measures in response to severe disasters. PATHfinder solution will be based on the usage of a scalable fleet of tethered (MTD) /aerial (AD)/ underwater (UD) /ground rover (RD) drones providing situational awareness solutions in BVLOS scenarios.

PNT Technology

PNT technology plays an important role to support the missions performed by the fleet of drones on site. In particular:

AD

The aerial drone (AD) will be equipped with PNT algorithms run on an integrated GNSS payload including RAIM and OS-NMA features for enhanced resilience.

AD & RD

The aerial drone (AD) and Rover Drone (RD) will be configured as a cooperative system able to operate in heterogeneous scenarios, challenging environments and different weather conditions.

PATHFINDER

Real-time and timely delivery information

early warning and persistent surveillance during disaster recovery and emergency response scenarios.
MTD

The Master Tethered Drone

This solution implements a tethered drone solution which main function is to provide persistent surveillance to port operations. In fact, this drone placed in a suitable and strategic position of the harbour, will be capable of many hours of operations without the need of recharging the batteries, since its main power is fed directly by the tether. Furthermore, the tether provides a physical limitation to the flight envelope of the drone for enhanced safety. The main added value brought by this drone to the Passport platform can be summarized as follows:
UD

The Underwater Drone

Due to the enhancement of the processing capabilities of the modern processor computers, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have being further exploited for an increasing number of missions and operations. For instance, since the creation of detailed seafloor maps has been arisen as crucial in monitoring the seabed changes and possible threats, the employment of AUVs for bathymetric map analysis may produce cheaper, more straightforward operations rather than traditional bathymetric surveys. In this perspective, although standard surface vessel-based bathymetry methodologies can provide higher-resolution maps, the AUV-onboard seabed bathymetric outcomes may represent a suitable tradeoff between logistic constraints and performance. Furthermore, the AUV can complement the bathymetric mission with more close and detailed inspections by means of optical and acoustic payload sensors. As far as this project is concerned, the exploited underwater drone (UD) is represented by FeelHippo AUV, a compact and lightweight autonomous vehicle developed by the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Florence (UNIFI DIEF). Its main features as well as onboard devices are reported hereafter.
RD

The Rover Drone

The RD that will be employed in the experimentations is the Husky Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) by Clearpath Robotics. This platform is a rugged, fast and easy to use terrestrial vehicle. Moreover, Husky is built from a sturdy aluminum chassis, made with a high torque 4×4 drivetrain for all-terrain operations and it has an IP62 wetherproof casing able to operate from -20 to 45 °C. From an electronic point of view, it is equipped with an onboard PC (8 Gb RAM, CPU Intel i3, USB 3.0 ports and LAN connectors ) and a power management module that is able to provide 5 V, 12 Vand 24 V that can be easily used to supply additional devices or sensors. In this case, alongside with the onboard GNSS receiver and all the other sensors, one or more Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) devices will be available to allow increased localization capabilities. The UWB module communicates with a similar device mounted onboard the MTD (and/or the AD); exchanging data packets the two devices can compute the ToA (Time of Arrival) of the signal and thus the precise distance (~10 cm error) between the two drones with a maximum range of about 150 m. The most common UWB hardwer is based on the DW1000 single-chip wireless transceiver by Decawave. In particular the EVB100o evaluation boards have several useful features that make them particularly suitable for custom applicatins, for example: exachangable external antenna, various power options (USB, 2.8 V, 5 V), JTAG connector needed to eventually reprogram the on board µController, configurable communication channel and frequency.
Drone
AD

The Areal Drone

The AD (baseline) for this proposal is one of the drones already in fleet available in the consortium. One of the moste advanced drones in the class <25 Kg on the market (State-of the art), is represented by the DJI M300 RTK. This drone commercirm takes inspiration from modern aviation systems, Offering up to 55 minutes of flight time, advanced AI capabilities, 6 Directional Sensing & Positioning and more, the M300 RTK sets a whole new standard by combining intelligence with high-performance and unrivaled reliability.
Emergency situations deriving from disaster occurrence generate complex and unique scenarios with several challenges. Extreme events and emergency conditions are common in volcanic areas, typically involving civilian people and infrastructures. Data collection during natural events could be difficult and it represents a serious hazardous condition for involved personnel. Risk mitigation becomes a hard task to be solved in a very short time to enable possible countermeasures, evacuation or alternative actions. The aim of the PATHfinder solution is to create a novel system capable of:
PATHfinder

Stromboli, a multi-hazard scenario

To emphasize the potential utility of the PATHfinder proposed solution, the case-study of Stromboli volcano (South Italy) is proposed as optimal case history of multi-hazard occurrence that impacted the communities and the territory. Stromboli is selected as scenario for the in-situ experimental deployment of the solution, as: (1) it recently experienced moderate to major instability events; (2) its slopes are prone to landslides; (3) it is persistently active; (4) landslide-induced tsunamis could affect populated areas; (5) a variety of remote sensing techniques can be applied, (6) a monitoring system already exists, with continuous collection of different parameters (e.g., ground deformation, seismic, thermal and infrasonic activities) providing exceptional validation data and ground-truth constraints and; (7) a National Emergency Plan of the island of Stromboli, defined by the Department of Civil Protection, is active since 2015, with different actors that can be involved during deployment activities.
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The project is being funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and supported with the tecnical review of the European Space Agency (ESA) in the framework of NAVISP Element 2

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PATHfinder Consortium