Researchers from the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences and the TU Delft have developed an optical flow-based control system for drones by studying how flying insects solve complex problems such as landing and avoiding obstacles.
Current drones on the market have trouble detecting obstacles that insects can easily overcome. This sparked the idea of studying these flying insects and finding out how a drone works just like them.
A big problem for current drones is that the optical flow for obstacles in front of the drone becomes so low that the noise of the data makes them unusable, causing the drone to crash or get stuck.
The second problem is that these drones often vibrate as they approach the objects they are looking at, which means that they are flying up and down faster and faster.
The research team managed to use this vibration by measuring the distance of an object. Together with the detection of the object texture, the test drones were able to overcome obstacles and land much more smoothly than before.
Because of the vibration, this method is best left to smaller drones as it uses more battery and creates an uncomfortable experience for passengers in a larger drone. The team mentioned that the vibrations shown in the video are much larger than those that occur after the algorithms have advanced a little.
You may think that DJI or similar drones with stereo camera systems don’t suffer from this problem. That’s right. This is more focused on drones that don’t have obstacle avoidance systems, but rather those that only have a single camera to ensure safe flight.
Researchers are also doing more epic things with drones, from quantum networks to preventing drones from falling from the sky.
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