DOI: 10.3390/drones8030098 ISSN: 2504-446X

Toward Virtual Testing of Unmanned Aerial Spraying Systems Operating in Vineyards

Manuel Carreño Carreño Ruiz, Nicoletta Bloise, Giorgio Guglieri, Domenic D’Ambrosio
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Control and Systems Engineering

In recent times, the objective of reducing the environmental impact of the agricultural industry has led to the mechanization of the sector. One of the consequences of this is the everyday increasing use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for different tasks in agriculture, such as spraying operations, mapping, or diagnostics, among others. Aerial spraying presents an inherent problem associated with the drift of small droplets caused by their entrainment in vortical structures such as tip vortices produced at the tip of rotors and wings. This problem is aggravated by other dynamic physical phenomena associated with the actual spray operation, such as liquid sloshing in the tank, GPS inaccuracies, wind gusts, and autopilot corrections, among others. This work focuses on analyzing the impact of nozzle position and liquid sloshing on droplet deposition through numerical modeling. To achieve this, the paper presents a novel six degrees of freedom numerical model of a DJI Matrice 600 equipped with a spray system. The spray is modeled using Lagrangian particles and the liquid sloshing is modeled with an interface-capturing method known as Volume of Fluid (VOF) approach. The model is tested in a spraying operation at a constant velocity of 2 m/s in a virtual vineyard. The maneuver is achieved using a PID controller that drives the angular rates of the rotors. This spraying mission simulator was used to obtain insights into optimal nozzle selection and positioning by quantifying the amount of droplet deposition.

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