Mar 21, 2020

Drone plays dodgeball to demo fast new obstacle detection system

Posted by in categories: drones, information science

Obstacle avoidance is a crucial piece of technology for drones, but commercially-available systems just aren’t fast enough for some situations. Now, engineers at the University of Zurich have developed a new system that gives drones such fast reflexes that they can play – and win at – dodgeball.

According to the researchers, most current obstacle avoidance systems take about 20 to 40 milliseconds to process changes in their surroundings. That’s fine for a drone gently approaching a building and finding its way inside, but it’s no match for fast-moving obstacles like birds or other drones. That makes navigation a problem in certain situations, like when there are a lot of drones together or in dynamic environments like disaster zones, or when a drone just needs to move fast.

So for the new study, the researchers kitted out a quadcopter drone with cameras specially designed to detect fast movement, as well as new algorithms that made them even faster. This cut the reaction time down to just 3.5 milliseconds.

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