Ascending the Top to Serve for the Motherland, Climbing the Paramount with Precision

Ascending the Top to Serve for the Motherland, Climbing the Paramount with Precision

    On the “Flying Eagle” team of Beijing Institute of Technology


  On the evening of February 25, 2020 Beijing time, as the only Chinese team participating the competition, the BIT “Flying Eagle” team defeated 23 teams from top international universities and research institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Institute of Technology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, winning this championship again after winning the championship of "Drone Moving Target Detection and Autonomous Takeoff and Landing" in 2017! The competition was widely reported by many well-known domestic and foreign media including the UAE National News Agency, China Central Television, Xinhua News Agency, and People's Daily, triggering a strong social response.

  The "Flying Eagle" team of Beijing Institute of Technology has interpreted the mission of students of BIT with " ambitious and glorious for the country ", "ascending the top, if I can 't do it , who can?", "precision, unity of knowledge and action", " collaboration and overcoming difficulties” in the new era.

  Ambitious and glorious for the country

  "Due to the outbreak of the domestic epidemic, half of the team's participants could not rush back to Beijing in time, and key positions were missing. Also, because the delivery of express was restricted, the equipment purchased online cannot be put in place in time. This is like having no ‘gun’ on the battlefield. "Before departure, Lin Defu, a Ph.D. tutor and leader of the School of Aerospace Engineering of BIT, was tight all the time. At that time, the domestic epidemic situation was still in a period of growth, and new cases of 2019-nCoV in the UAE have been diagnosed. Lin Defu was more worried about the health of the team members.

  On February 18th, Lin Defu led his "Flying Eagle" team to the conference venue. He specifically asked whether the conference had special requirements for the Chinese team. Unexpectedly, Professor Lamark, chairman of the technical committee of the conference, only said a few words "I believe that China's prevention and control will do well." These words gave the players a "heart-pill", "We must win glory for the motherland and glory for the Beijing Institute of Technology." the team members made up their minds.

  From the day they arrived in Abu Dhabi, they "did up" until 2am almost every day. "Review" the daytime exercises; summarize the experience and deficiencies of daily experiments; continuously optimize the drone's autonomous algorithms and strategies ... Until the contest organizing committee announced that the Beijing Institute of Technology won the championship, all efforts turned into joy of success. This time, the Flying Eagles scored the only full score of 100 points in the competition, and far exceeded the second place by 28 points.

  Executive President Ahmed of Khalifa University of Technology praised on the spot: "I think China has a high level of research and development in the field of drones, and is good at combining technology with practical applications, because we see these students’ scientific research results which have been applied to reality. "

  "I'm from BIT, I am on behalf of China!" Standing on the podium, BIT teachers and students want to tell the whole world this sentence!

  Ascending the top, if I can 't do it , who can?

  General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out at the 2016 symposium on cybersecurity and informatization that it is possible to explore and promote the leaderboard and list the key core technology projects that are needed. Regardless of where the hero is from, whoever has the ability can unveil the list. For the Beijing Institute of Technology "Flying Eagle" team, the international high-level scientific research competition is the "list" in front.

  "This competition is held at the UAE National Exhibition Center. The venue is similar to a football field. A drone drags a small yellow ball in the air and flies freely in an" 8 "shaped trajectory. Five poles about two meters high are randomly placed on the ground, and free-floating balloons are placed on the poles for interference. The participating drones are required in the shortest time to autonomously track the target machine to grab the yellow ball and puncture the interference balloon placed on the pole. The competition focused on the assessment of cutting-edge technologies of unmanned intelligent systems such as machine vision, autonomous control, cluster coordination and penetration in complex backgrounds. "The teacher in charge of the competition, Song Tao said.

  "The so-called" autonomy "means that the drone should take unmanned intervention from takeoff to complete penetration, from catching the ball to landing. In the future, this technology can also be applied in real-life scenarios such as unmanned autonomous start and stop of watercraft and refueling the drones in the air, "said Lin Defu.

  Since the start of the competition preparation in 2019, combined with the development trends of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence,  the "Flying Eagle" team has relied on the accumulation of relevant technologies of the Institute of Unmanned Autonomous Control of School of Aerospace Engineering of BIT, and has formulated technical solutions, focusing on every single minute, concentrating on solving technical problems of the system modules including unmanned system structural design, visual recognition and perception, navigation guidance and control, collaborative distribution and path planning, which has achieved technical breakthroughs such as accurate recognition and positioning of space targets, drone tracking control and attitude control technology under strong interference, and collaborative task assignment in highly dynamic multi-target scenarios.

  Through careful organization, precise design and control, the "Flying Eagle" team of Beijing Institute of Technology got the only perfect score on the field.

  Precision, unity of knowledge and action

  Success did not happen overnight. From the early preparation to the later training, it takes the members of the "Flying Eagle" team more than a year.

  In the MBZIRC2020 competition, due to the complex and uneven background of the optical target recognition technology and the small size of the space target, the recognition effect is greatly affected by the light, highly real-time image processing technology is required; the tracking target in the event is a non-cooperative highly dynamic object, and the target position and movement mode are randomly unknown. Therefore, it is necessary to accurately predict the target's movement state, plan the optimal trajectory and constrain the drone speed to achieve accurate capture of the target; the rapid processing and sharing of multi-machine dynamic information in the case of complex communication environments and delays also puts forward higher requirements for multi-drone cooperative control technology, which are also the problems of frontier technology and practical application in the field of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.

  "In the competition, the camera is equivalent to the eyes of the machine. How to make the drone reliably" see "and" recognize ", the interaction between the on-board computer and the algorithm required to process the visual data becomes crucial. How to improve the adaptability of the complex environment of the algorithm is an important problem we face, and it has been extended to the scene of the competition. During normal training, we seize every opportunity to collect on-site environmental information and optimize the reliability and speed of the algorithm according to the actual environment. A small detail often determines the success or failure of the entire system.” recalled Jin Ren, a doctoral student in charge of visual artificial intelligence algorithms.

  Tao Hong, the only female general in the team, responsible for navigation and control, said, " For navigation and control, the biggest difficulty should be the control accuracy, because the yellow ball suspended by the target drone is only 13cm in diameter, and it does "8" shaped movement in the air with an unknown direction. Our task is to control the aircraft to quickly approach the target tracking machine and catch the yellow ball. In addition, it cannot collide with the target, otherwise points will be deducted, which requires navigation and control with high precision. However, the study of new algorithms has never been smooth. Before departure in October 2019, I was confident that I had written a test outline of more than 20 pages. In late October, we successfully debugged the subsystem algorithm. We started single-machine joint debugging in early November and coordinated multi-machine debugging in late November. As a result, when I started the experiment in the outfield, I found out that there were too many problems before I could open the test program. After trying and practicing again and again, we finally understand the profound meaning of "things are shallow on paper", only by combining theory with practice can we obtain results that can stand the test of actual combat one by one. "

  Collaboration and overcoming difficulties

  The winning of the Beijing Institute of Technology's "Flying Eagle" team is a successful case of interdisciplinary integration, collision thinking, and innovative breakthroughs in aircraft, computer, vision, navigation, control, structure, information and other disciplines, which fully reflects the excellent system engineering capabilities of Beijing Institute of Technology.

  The small team’s collaboration promotes the "Flying Eagle" team to create good results, and the development model of large collaboration is a big achievement being made by the "Flying Eagle" team. Technological innovation has not only cultivated newcomers who are willing to endure hardships and dare to tackle key problems, but also promoted the transformation of achievements, serving the society, and international cooperation as a key point.

  In terms of talent training, the "Flying Eagle" team draws on high-level international scientific research competitions and major national needs to condense scientific issues and carry out technical research, which has greatly promoted frontier basic research. Explore a new model and method of cultivating leading talents who promote learning by competition, promote teaching by competition, promote research by competition and promote cooperation by competition. In 2019, the team members published a total of more than 20 papers in SCI, including 8 top journals. In terms of achievement transformation, transformation and application of many core key technologies of the "Flying Eagle" team has been achieved, serving major national needs, and solving the "jam neck" technical bottleneck, which is highly recognized and praised by the industry and society. In terms of serving the society, the "Flying Eagle" team closely focuses on the national strategic goal of poverty alleviation and develops a precise terrain fruit forest farmland management system based on drone clusters to provide intellectual support for the regional economic transformation and development. At the same time, the team actively carried out youth science popularization activities, and provided lectures and technological innovation courses in many middle and primary schools in the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, the Seventh Middle School of Beijing, the High School Affiliated to BIT, and Harbin No.3 Senior High School to cultivate youth's innovative spirit and practical ability.

  The two wins of the "Flying Eagle" team have had a huge influence in the UAE, which has established a platform for enhancing the academic reputation of Beijing Institute of Technology in the Middle East, and laid a good foundation for further deepening China-Arab technology cooperation. The "Flying Eagle" team actively responded to new mission of "going out" to carry out scientific, technological, cultural and educational exchanges that the “Belt and Road “initiative gives to universities and colleges. Through the joint construction of the intelligent unmanned system joint laboratory with the UAE Khalifa University of Science and Technology, the exchange of high-level talents has promoted the mutual cultural trust between China and Arab countries, and has truly realized the combination of education and cultural exchanges between both countries and the localization of technology. It will help deepen the cooperation between the two countries and provide support for the “Belt and Road” strategy.

  Even if the road is the closest, you cannot reach it without walking. In the future, the "Flying Eagle" team of Beijing Institute of Technology will continue to aim at the world's technological frontiers and major national needs, with great ambitions and become a dream-seeker; with highest virtue and precise work; be a striver for the ultimate pursuit; innovative and tolerant, be a pioneer with a broad horizon; act as a patriotic and dedicated practitioner in the times!