Rescue drones fly by vision, inertial sensing

Drones can now operate in locations GPS can’t reach.

November 06, 2017

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Drones can now operate in locations GPS can’t reach.

Draper's smoothing and mapping with inertial state estimation (SAMWISE) sensor-fusion algorithm enables drones to fly 45 mph in unmapped, GPS-denied environments.
Source: Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

ALO ALTO, California — MIT and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory have developed vision-aided navigation technology for rescue or reconnaissance drones flying in environments where GPS doesn't reach.

Unlike previous, unsuccessful attempts to solve this problem with other navigation technologies like lidar, the technology doesn't rely on a system of orienting structures, motion capture systems, or maps. Those alternative technologies have also been hindered by drone flight speeds of up to 45 mph that outpace many onboard communications signal speeds.

The team's solution for first responders or soldiers operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in GPS-denied locations — like underground, under dense forest canopies, or inside urban "canyons" — lets UAVs autonomously maneuver through unknown environments.

This article was originally published on EE Times. To read the rest of the article, click here.

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