Researchers at the University of New South Wales have constructed an autonomous drone that is able to fly intelligently, even when no GPS signal is available.
Phys.org reports that Dr. Jiefei Wang, a lead researcher on the project, affixed an Xbox Kinect sensor to his drone as an input device. Dr. Wang also worked on an algorithm that helps the drone process information captured through the sensor, image by image.
The algorithm detects the pixels in the current image and compares it with previous images, noting the difference. By sensing the differences in 2-d images, the drone can calculate speed and location in space.
What are the applications of such technology?
The vast majority of drones we know and love use GPS to navigate. GPS coverage, however, is not always available. In war or disaster zones, underground or in a collapsed building there may simply be no signal available. In these types of situations, alternative solutions such as this, which help drones navigate, come into their own.
Dr. Wang admits that there are some limitations to his invention:
“As the RGB-D cameras (such as the Kinect sensor) are still in their infancy, they still suffer from performance drawbacks such as limited operational range and relatively low resolution,” he said.
“In future, we may be able to use the drones to help rescue people from earthquakes, help mining industries with underground detection without risking lives, and more.
Autonomous drone technology continues to progress in leaps and bounds
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