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  1. In this work we address the System-of-Systems reassembling operation of a marsupial team comprising a hybrid Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and a Legged Locomotion robot, relying solely on vision-based systems and assisted by Deep Learning. The target application domain is that of large-scale field surveying operations under the presence of wireless communication disruptions. While most real-world field deployments of multi-robot systems assume some degree of wireless communication to coordinate key tasks such as multi-agent rendezvous, a desirable feature against unrecoverable communication failures or radio degradation due to jamming cyber-attacks is the ability for autonomous systems to robustly execute their mission with onboard perception. This is especially true for marsupial air / ground teams, wherein landing onboard the ground robot is required. We propose a pipeline that relies on Deep Neural Network-based Vehicle-to-Vehicle detection based on aerial views acquired by flying at typical altitudes for Micro Aerial Vehicle-based real-world surveying operations, such as near the border of the 400ft Above Ground Level window. We present the minimal computing and sensing suite that supports its execution onboard a fully autonomous micro-Tiltrotor aircraft which detects, approaches, and lands onboard a Boston Dynamics Spot legged robot. We present extensive experimental studies that validate this marsupial aerial / ground robot’s capacity to safely reassemble while in the airborne scouting phase without the need for wireless communication. 
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  2. In this work we address the flexible physical docking-and-release as well as recharging needs for a marsupial system comprising an autonomous tiltrotor hybrid Micro Aerial Vehicle and a high-end legged locomotion robot. Within persistent monitoring and emergency response situations, such aerial / ground robot teams can offer rapid situational awareness by taking off from the mobile ground robot and scouting a wide area from the sky. For this type of operational profile to retain its long-term effectiveness, regrouping via landing and docking of the aerial robot onboard the ground one is a key requirement. Moreover, onboard recharging is a necessity in order to perform systematic missions. We present a framework comprising: a novel landing mechanism with recharging capabilities embedded into its design, an external battery-based recharging extension for our previously developed power-harvesting Micro Aerial Vehicle module, as well as a strategy for the reliable landing and the docking-and-release between the two robots. We specifically address the need for this system to be ferried by a quadruped ground system while remaining reliable during aggressive legged locomotion when traversing harsh terrain. We present conclusive experimental validation studies by deploying our solution on a marsupial system comprising the MiniHawk micro tiltrotor and the Boston Dynamics Spot legged robot. 
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