Researchers at MIT flew an autonomous robotic plane in an enclosed area around obstacles, demonstrating that it is possible to build a self-navigational, fixed-wing vehicle that can fly at high speeds safely without the use of GPS. (Source: MIT)
TJ--My thoughts exactly. I don't know what changes might need to be made to adapt the systems to this use but I do think that could be accomplished with some effort now that the work that has been done already. I do see the great advantage for in-flight systems where GPS is not available or has been disabled. This is great work by MIT and contributing agencies of our government.
Thanks for the link, Ann. I find it amusing that this robot uses technology from the Xbox 360. Computer games have led a number of technology developments. In the automation and control world, they're using game technology for training and simulation. The miltary is also using game technology for training.
Robots that make maps--and that update them continuously for navigation purposes, which it's not clear that this one does--are a topic we've covered before: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=240288
That one is also MIT, and also from a group in its CSAIL lab.
Good question, Jack. The new object might need to be programmed in. On their next stage, this team is going to try to get the plane to map its own environment on the run. I would think that would require GPS. But maybe not.
It would be interesting to see how the algorithm would respond to a change in the environment - such as if a new structure were added (or somebody's head for that matter). Would it know enough to just avoid the obstacle or would it think it is in another location of the map?
The Space Kid, 11, will be one of the first civilians to have his design manufactured in space by NASA, thanks to the City X Project, which inspires kids to think about new 3D-printed inventions that could be useful for humans living in space.
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