The high altitude autonomous glider project (HAAG) aims to launch an unpowered autonomous air vehicle from 18 km using a helium balloon and have it navigate through a specified GPS waypoint and back to the launch site.
Start date: 9/8/2014
End date: 11/24/2014
11/23/2014 Update – Drone Launch
On 11/22 we launched the drone and flight apparatus from Chapel Hill, NC. We tracked both the drone and the flight apparatus location remotely (using SPOT personal trackers). The apparatus diverged immediately from our expected flight path due to high wind. Fatally, at 18km there was no separation between the flight apparatus and the drone, indicating our electric and mechanical separation mechanisms both failed. Because the drone could not separate itself from the flight apparatus, it continued flying East with the apparatus, and landed in the swamps of eastern NC.
We understood at the beginning that this was a high-risk project. There were many unknown conditions that our engineering did not take into consideration. It is unfortunate that we were not able to retrieve the vehicle to obtain data on the specific failure. While the drone failed to meet many of its primary goals, it succeeded in the most important one: inspiring and bringing together the group of Duke Robotics members who will only continue to further our long term goals.