Time for Smart Drones?

As the FAA scrambles to keep UAV operators to blame for their flights prior to a holiday buying season is officially for us, researchers with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich do their best to clear out the need for such operators altogether.

The Institute has published a paper as well as a video demonstrating a little drone that could build a 3D map of their environment after which plan and fly its very own routes autonomously.

The system, built on a compact AscTec Firefly hexacopter, utilizes a combination of sensors and also a stereoscopic camera to calculate velocity, orientation, and gravity. It then compares these calculations with images from the camera and produces a 3D map of the environment, all fully briefed. Check DJI Phantom 3 review page.

The drone requires an operator to conduct its first flight in a very new environment, thus it can gather each of the necessary metrics and build the 3D map, however the operator can step away and also the drone has the ability to navigate its in the past to its point of origin.

All subsequent flights, to your location from the environment, can be carried out autonomously.

“This may be the first time we can easily show full mapping, relocalization—finding the drone around the map—and planning up to speed,” researcher Michael Burri told the MIT Technology Review.

The obvious application for the drone such as this, explained Burri, is inspection.

Oil rigs, power lines, and cell towers all should be inspected regularly along with the labor and time savings a drone could provide of these situations (to mention nothing of how much safer it can be to send a drone rather than person into these situations) are fairly obvious.

The one pain point with the Institute’s UAV would be the fact that adding the sensors and camera significantly increased the load of the drone which cut the flight time with the drone nearly by 50 percent (from a quarter-hour to 7).

Burri is just not so interested in this issue and believes newer drones for the market could carry exactly the same payload nevertheless fly for approximately 20 minutes.

The other solution to this problem is one in the biggest hurdles yet facing the drone industry: batteries.

The average commercial drone only gets 20-30 minutes of flight time anyway so a far more powerful battery is a welcome advance to your entire industry.

While other sorts of bright minds try and come up with that solution, Burri with the exceptional team take presctiption to equipping their platform having a sense and prevent system so the UAV could evade object that don’t display on its mapp i.e. moving objects and/or people.

The best benefit of this announcement is, whilst the FAA attempts to figure out how to keep pilots more responsible, technology is progressing away with them completely.

Check out Burri’s drone in action within the clip below:


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