A 10-gram Vision-based Flying Robot
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24-12-2010, 11:40 AM

Submitted By:
Jean-Christophe Zufferey, Adam Klaptocz, Antoine Beyeler,
Jean-Daniel Nicoud, and Dario Floreano

We aim at developing ultralight autonomous microflyers capable of freely flying within houses or small built environments while avoiding collisions. Our latest prototype is a fixed-wing aircraft weighing a mere 10 g, flying around 1.5 m/s and carrying the necessary electronics for airspeed regulation and lateral collision avoidance. This microflyer is equipped with two tiny camera modules, two rate gyroscopes, an anemometer, a small microcontroller, and a Bluetooth radio module. Inflight tests are carried out in a new experimentation room specifically designed for easy changing of surrounding textures.

There are currently no autonomous flying robots capable of autonomously navigating indoors, within enclosed environments such as offices or houses without external help. Although they could be useful in many applications such as surveillance, hazardous environment exploration, search and rescue, etc., the challenges engineers are facing to develop such robots are numerous. In order to be able to fly at very low speed (below 2 m/s) such flying systems must be ultra-lightweight (typically below 50 g), which implies tremendous constraints in terms of embedded computational power, sensor simplicity, and airframe architecture. Moreover, controlling such systems is quite different from controlling more conventional outdoor micro aerial vehicles, which can rely on high-precision inertial measurement units, global positioning systems, radars or other conventional distance sensors,and/or visual horizon detection systems . In this paper we present the latest prototype resulting from our research in the domain of indoor microflyers since 2001 . This robot, called MC2, has an overall weight of 10 g including visual, inertial, and air flow sensors, which enable a certain degree of autonomy: automatic take-off, speed regulation, and lateral collision avoidance. These capabilities have been demonstrated in a 7x6-m room equipped with randomly textured walls.
To the best of our knowledge, the MC2 (together with its slightly different predecessor, the MC1 is the lightest motorized free-flying robot produced to date. Oh and collaborators have been working on automatic landing and collision avoidance with an indoor flying robot weighing about 30 g . However, these experiments were carried out in relatively large indoor environments such as basketball courts and a single vision sensor could be embedded at a time allowing for either controlling altitude or avoiding obstacles on one side only. More recently, Fearing and collaborators developed a remarkable 2-gram microglider but no autonomous operation has been demonstrated so far. In our lab, we built a 1.5-gram microglider, which was able to autonomously fly towards a light source . However, no attempt have been made so far to equip such lightweight gliding systems with collision avoidance capabilities. Other project and implimentations aiming at even smaller flying robots (helicopters or flapping-wings ) have been attempted, but no self-powered free flights have been carried out as of yet. In summer 2004, we demonstrated the first visually-guided free-flying indoor aircraft. This was done with an earlier prototype (designated F2) weighing 30 g and flying in a 16x16-m room equipped with evenly-distributed black and white vertical stripes made of suspended fabrics. The experiment consisted of having the 80-cm-wingspanned aircraft autonomously steer like a fly, i.e., following straight trajectories when far from any walls and engaging a rapid turn (saccade) when close to a wall (see for details).

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28-02-2011, 10:18 PM

could anyone please send the full report of this seminar and presentation topic

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