May 3, 2012
Quadrotors Fly Independently Outdoors
|Most of the demonstrations of autonomous quadrotors, such as the famous University of Pennsylvania presentation at TED by Vijay Kumar, so far have been in controlled, indoor environments. The sFly project is working to make the amazing technology available for outdoor autonomous operations.|
uadrotors, those amazing flying robots, have been showcased on many occasions for their incredible manueverability, speed and ability to fly in swarms.
Most of the demonstrations of autonomous quadrotors, or micro air vehicles (MAVs) so far have been in controlled, indoor environments. The sFly project is working to make the amazing technology available for outdoor autonomous operations.
The scope of the sFly project is to develop a system of multiple vision-controlled micro aerial vehicles that are capable of autonomous navigation in GPS-denied environments, 3D mapping, and radio-beacons localization.
The sFly MAV's are fully autonomous. Flight control is done by computer vision and runs entirely onboard. No laser rangefinder or GPS are used-- only onboard cameras.
For hardware the sFly consortium uses Ascending Technologies vehicles.
An on-board monocular visual slam computes local camera poses and sparse features. These estimated poses are fused with the IMU measurements in a filter. An additional stereo system captures image data while the MAVs explore the environment.
These image data are used to compute a detailed dense 3D model of the environment. An off-board visual SLAM module computes a global map by utilizing loop detection and bundle adjustment optimization.
The individual maps from the MAVs are merged into a single global map. A 3D grid map is generated by depth map fusion in the final step of the mapping process. A cognitive adaptive optimization algorithm is used to compute the optimal surveillance positions for the MAVs based on the generated 3D map of the environment.
sFly envisages that in the near future sFly MAVs will play a major role in tasks such as search and rescue, inspection, and environmental monitoring.
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Tags: Ascending Technologies, flying robot, MAV, micro air vehicle, quadricopter, quadrotor, robotics, sfly
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