News

Keep up to date with the latest activities and news from the ESL by visiting this page regularly.

Griffin and Wasp Flight Tests

Anton Erasmus implemented the ROS technology into his project to send coordinates to Griffin’s flight controller through an external script. This was tested by sending various coordinates to Griffin and observing its response. ROS allows quick plug and play of software packages across different hardware, increasing the deployment of UAV solutions.

 
Reghard Grobler commissioned a new drone, Wasp. Reghard tested the different controllers of Wasp by flying in specific trajectories.

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1st Cape Town-Aachen Robotics Symposium

ESL students and lecturers presented some of the on going projects within the ESL at the 1st Cape Town-Aachen Robotics Symposium between 1 and 2 July. These projects include weather balloons, toolchains used for development, gliders and neural networks.

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Griffin Test Flight

During each student project there comes a time when the simulations meets reality, where we test our project in the real environment for which they are designed to operate. The morning of the 24th of April was the day when Anton Erasmus tested his self-built drone, Griffin, at the Helderberg Radio Flyers Club.

Anton’s project is titled “Control of a rotary wing UAV with a flexible payload”. This practically means his rotary wing UAV must be able to control a payload with no information of the payload’s mass, length and other dynamic variables. Drones will be delivering a variety of packages, and the control system should be able to adapt to packages changing in form and mass after each delivery. This makes the project very interesting and very useful for future technology.

Support was given by fellow ESL students who provided moral support and helping hands. A test pilot was organised to fly Griffin in case any anomaly occurs to ensure the safety of the vehicle and environment. This was done by Mr. Michael Basson, with whom the ESL has a long relationship.

The goal of the flight test was to ensure that the orientation controllers are behaving as expected. From the observed behavior and verification of the measurement data, Griffin successfully maintained a stable flight throughout the test.

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March Graduation 2019

We would like to congratulate all the ESL students (9 Masters students) which received their degrees in the graduation ceremony on 3rd April.

Engineering Open Day 2019

The Engineering Faculty of Stellenbosch University held its annual open day for prospective students on Saturday the 23rd of February.  As is the case every year the ESL was on the official Electric and Electronic Engineering Department tour.  Inspiring the future engineering students with some demonstrations and the projects we are busy with, showing the applications of control systems and robotics.

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ESL Open Symposium

The ESL hosted an open symposium on the 24th and 28th of January.  The aim of this was to give the students who have completed their research projects the opportunity to present to others.  In addition it gives the new ESL students a perspective of what can be achieved during their time at the ESL.  We hope to make this event a regular occasions and draw more guests in the future.  Thank you to all the speakers for their contributions.

New ESL Members

We have welcomed 10 new 2019 members to the ESL team.  Good luck with your projects!

CubeSpace recently moved to their new office!

CubeSpace, an ESL spin-off company, has recently moved their office to the Nedbank LaunchLab. The CubeSat research conducted at the ESL over the past few years has led to the founding of a spin-off company, CubeSpace. CubeSpace is an innovative space industry competitor that specialises in small satellite control systems. The company provides standalone components (with space heritage), integrated custom solutions, and consultation services on a global scale. Some of the recent projects are listed below.

DeOrbitSail

DeOrbitSail is a FP7 project focusing on the passive deorbiting of satellites by deploying a sail.  Deploying a sail increases the cross-section area of the satellite and greatly increases the aerodynamic drag.  The drag reduces the velocity of the satellite and thus reduces the orbit altitude until the satellite is completely deorbited.  DeOrbitSail is a 3U CubeSat deploying a 16m2 sail.  Stellenbosch University is responsible for the ADCS of the DeOrbitSail satellite.  This includes a complete bundle of electronics including actuators and sensors and the ADCS flight software. Their new facilities will include among others a state of the art clean room. Feel free to go and visit them!

CubeSail

CubeSail is a 3U CubeSat solar sailing satellite mission from Surrey Space Centre.  The satellite deploys a 25m2 solar sail which will generate solar thrust that will change the inclination of the orbit.  Stellenbosch University is involved in supplying the ADCS software and electronics which includes a translation stage which can move the satellite body relative to the sail.  This can be used to reduce the solar thrust disturbance torque and to create control torques to perform attitude manoeuvres.  After completing the main mission objective the satellite will turn its sail to maximise the aerodynamics drag.