smARTflight: An Environmentally-Aware Adaptive Real-Time Flight Management System

Authors Anam Farrukh , Richard West

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Author Details

Anam Farrukh
  • Department of Computer Science, Boston University, MA, USA
Richard West
  • Department of Computer Science, Boston University, MA, USA

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Anam Farrukh and Richard West. smARTflight: An Environmentally-Aware Adaptive Real-Time Flight Management System. In 32nd Euromicro Conference on Real-Time Systems (ECRTS 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 165, pp. 24:1-24:22, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


Multi-rotor drones require real-time sensor data processing and control to maintain flight stability, which is made more challenging by external disturbances such as wind. In this paper we introduce smARTflight: an environmentally-aware adaptive real-time flight management system. smARTflight adapts the execution frequencies of flight control tasks according to timing and safety-critical constraints, in response to transient fluctuations of a drone’s attitude. In contrast to current state-of-the-art methods, smARTflight’s criticality-aware scheduler reduces the latency to return to a steady-state target attitude. The system also improves the overall control accuracy and lowers the frequency of adjustments to motor speeds to conserve power. A comparative case-study with a well-known autopilot shows that smARTflight reduces unnecessary control loop executions under stable conditions, while reducing response time latency by as much as 60% in a given axis of rotation when subjected to a 15° step attitude disturbance.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Computer systems organization → Firmware
  • adaptive real-time systems
  • safety criticality
  • flight controller
  • multi-rotor drones
  • environmental awareness


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