Concentric circles based simple optical landing aid for vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts
Murshid, Syed H.
Lovell, Gregory L.
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Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircrafts such as helicopters and drones, add a flexible degree of operation to airborne vehicles. In order to operate these devices in low light situations, where it is difficult to determine slope of the landing surface, a lightweight and standalone device is proposed here. This small optical device can be easily integrated into current VTOL systems. An optical projector consisting of low power, light weight, solid state laser along with minimal optics is utilized to illuminate the landing surface with donut shaped circles and coaxial centralized dot. This device can placed anywhere on the aircraft and a properly placed fiber system can be used to illuminate the surface beneath the bottom of the VTOL aircraft in a fashion that during operation, when the aircraft is parallel to the landing surface, the radius between the central dot and outer ring(s) are equidistant for the entire circumference; however, when there the landing surface of the VTOL aircraft is not parallel to the landing strip, the radial distance between two opposite sides of the circle and central dot will be unequal. The larger this distortion, the greater the difference will be between the opposite sides of the circle. Visual confirmation or other optical devices can be used to determine relative alignment of the projector output allowing the pilot to make proper adjustments as they approach the landing surface to ensure safe landings. Simulated and experimental results from a prototype optical projector are presented here.