AI Robotics

A drone that can dodge anything thrown at it.

A drone that can dodge anything thrown at it.

Introduction: A drone that can dodge anything thrown at it.

A drone that can dodge anything thrown at it. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of Zurich equipped a drone with event cameras and a sonar system to make it capable of detecting and dodging objects thrown at it. This technology could help drones and birds safely co-exist in the sky and it could also prove useful for law enforcement and military drones, which are susceptible to attacks.

Source: YouTube | Mashable.


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In their paper, titled “EVDodge: Embodied AI for High-Speed Dodging on a quadrotor using event cameras,” it is stated that the system has an overall success rate of 70 percent.

Aerial vehicles are already being used to inspect buildings, perform security patrols, and tally inventory inside warehouses. But to navigate a complex and unfamiliar environment, a drone typically needs to be controlled by an expert pilot on the ground, or else its surroundings must be mapped in great detail.

Also Read: AI and Autonomous Driving.

But navigating a busy physical world is a fundamental challenge for machines of many kinds, so advances in drone control could perhaps prove useful for AI more broadly.

The days of knocking an annoying drone out of the air with a precisely thrown rock might soon be over. Researchers at the University of Zurich have upgraded a drone with a special camera that can quickly spot approaching obstacles, allowing the craft to avoid them with reaction times as fast as 3.5 milliseconds.

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A drone that can dodge anything thrown at it.

Even drones being controlled by a skilled pilot can benefit from an obstacle avoidance system, which allows the craft to keep an eye out for obstacles in its flight path and automatically avoid a crash in the event a pilot doesn’t see a hazard or react fast enough to dodge it. Such systems are completely crucial for drones built to fly autonomously, whether it be for reconnaissance in dangerous areas after a natural disaster, or for companies like UPS that deliver products to consumers and have been developing flying drones as an alternative to four-wheeled delivery vehicles. Those big brown UPS trucks are impervious to seagulls who veer off course, but a package-laden drone would be easily knocked out of the sky by such a collision.

The cameras and image processing technologies that autonomous drones currently use to detect obstacles allow for reaction times within anywhere from 20 to 40 milliseconds, according to the UZH researchers. That’s fast, but when you factor in the speed of the drone itself (some can fly well over 150 miles per hour) many obstacles, such as a flying bird, another drone, or even a static object, 20 milliseconds isn’t enough to avoid a collision.