This Amazing Drone Can Dodge Obstacles at 30mph

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 - 11:13AM
Tuesday, 03 November 2015 - 11:13AM
Drones are incredibly popular these days, so popular in fact, that current estimates suggest over 1 million of the unmanned flying machines could be sold this year alone. The range of uses for these gadgets range from delivering groceries to general mischief, and after an increasing number commercial aircraft have reported near collisions with drones, the FAA has warned that tougher regulations will be needed very soon. 

The problem is, a high number of drones are piloted by amateurs, idiots and children, which means that the chances of collisions with other airborne objects and even humans on the ground are higher than we should be comfortable with. With so many drones being sold, there could conceivably come a time when our skies begin to resemble the invisible roadways of Coruscant. While such a comparison is overblown, the fact remains that reducing the chances of drone collisions is becoming increasingly important. Enter Andrew Barry, a researcher MIT (of course, it's always MIT) who has created a program that allows a drone to identify and avoid obstacles at speeds of up to 30mph.

Cue up some Kenny Loggins 'Danger Zone', because this is a remarkable little machine.

Opening quote
"Everyone is building drones these days, but nobody knows how to get them to stop running into things," said Barry. "Sensors like lidar are too heavy to put on small aircraft, and creating maps of the environment in advance isn't practical. If we want drones that can fly quickly and navigate in the real world, we need better, faster algorithms."
Closing quote

Working 20 times quicker than any existing program, the software creates virtual maps of its the drone's surroundings, but it's the fact that the software is creating these maps on the fly (excuse the pun) that is so impressive. Similar to the hazard avoidance systems seen in driverless cars, program's like Barry's could take Drones a huge step closer to becoming viable delivery vehicles. 

Personally, we want someone to test them out on the forest moon of Endor, because word is that the Empire is looking for some new pilots.

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