Abstract—This paper reports experimental result of a distance and position measurement method for autonomous movement control of four-rotor helicopters (drones) that uses two spotlights and comparing with a red marker using case, discuss the results of autonomous flight test evaluations. To conduct autonomous drone flights exceeding 10 m under unstable GPS signal situations, such as under bridges or inside tunnels during periodic maintenance inspections, correct self-positioning measurements are indispensable. This study proposes a simple method whereby autonomous drone movement control can be performed over distances exceeding 10 m by using two high-power 100 V alternating current spotlights set on the ground as infrared (IR) light sources. The spotlights are directed at the investigation target, such as the cracked area of a bridge, and the intense light of the two spotlights provides reference points that enable the drone to determine its correct position. In autonomous flight-testing in an enclosed corridor, our method provides capable of determining the drone’s position at distances up to 15 m with a standard deviation of 0.31 m. Our proposed method would be effective in situations where no skilled drone control operator is available and for flights requiring visual cue confirmations under adverse outdoor conditions.
Keywords—Infrared spotlights, Four-rotor helicopter, Long distance measurements, Bridge/tunnel investigations.
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