MIT's robotics whizzes have created a new flying drone that can navigate unknown indoor areas all by itself. The tiny helicopter manages its explorations by using an onboard laser scanner to map out walls and windows.
The researchers started with a quad-rotor helicopter developed by Ascending Technologies GmbH, and outfitted the micro aerial vehicle with sensors and instruments galore. Their laser scanner setup combines with a mapping algorithm to help compensate for the lack of GPS navigation in most indoor areas.
That led to a win at the 2009 AUVSI Aerial Robotics Competition, where the copter flew through a window and navigated an unfamiliar indoor area all on its own to find a blinking control panel. Here's a suggestion for the little flyer's next stop: Disaster City in College Station, Texas, where all good little drones go to cut their teeth on search and rescue operations.
I see a future in law enforcement for you, young Copter
It could be used as a scanning device for unknown locations. Just send it in and then you could get building schematics. It does need quieter fans and engines so it wont give away its location.
One problem. How does it interpret transparent objects? Closed windows, glass doors, etc. Also, what's the advantage to this over an rf controlled copter? I can see its use in mapping and collision avoidance, but autonomy seems pointless.
brilliant guys ...
The ability to operate in an arbitrarily complex three dimensional environment has remarkable potential. One that comes to mind is robotic operations at great ocean depths. It would seem that this technology should be considered as part of the effort to stem the flow of crude petroleum from the Gulf oil spill. Vision systems that include high definition imaging sonar would make a great addition to the devices set of capabilities.
I worked on the early Mars rover study projects and can see many applications for this system there as well.
Very nice and impressive work.