MITs laserguided autonomous airplane has an Atom CPU but no GPS

first_imgThere’s been no shortage of cool videos from researchers working on small flying machines. Most of the things that have been created so far, such as the quad-copters, are able to stop in mid air. They can re-orient themselves and make decisions from a holding pattern. This is much more difficult to accomplish with a fixed wing aircraft, but that hasn’t stopped several MIT researchers from designing one such plane.The MIT Robust Robotics Group has released a video demonstrating a small airplane capable of extended indoor flight without the use of GPS. The craft uses a laser-guided system powered by an Intel Atom processor. Combined with an inertial measurement unit, the laser mapping used on the plane is able to “see” the obstacles in its immediate environment and accurately navigate around those obstacles. This system allows the plane to come within a few centimeters of obstacles while traveling at 22mph as though it were nothing. Since this is a fixed wing aircraft and does not require the same amount of constant energy as a quadcopter to stay afloat, this design allows for a much longer flight times.This project is far from over, as the MIT researchers are next to tackle the issues found in providing the on-board computer with enough information to plot trajectory on its own. During the presentation, markers were put in place to help the plane make decisions, which means this plane can’t efficiently fly into a room that hasn’t already been mapped out. The laser guidance system can only see a two-dimensional view of the world, and obviously a third dimension would make the plan significantly more capable.I feel like every day the Robust Robotics Group works on this project is another day closer to science fiction and reality, at least when it comes to tiny flying robots, merges into one thing.Read more at MITlast_img

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