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Automation & Control

Video: Robotic Plane Flies Indoors Without GPS

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Rob Spiegel
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Rob Spiegel   9/17/2012 5:54:22 PM
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Yes, Chuck, this thing is flying without GPS. It has mapped the space it flies in. What I don't get is how the plane knows where it is within its map. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Charles Murray   9/17/2012 6:37:46 PM
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If it uses gyroscopes or three-axis accelerometers, that would answer our question, Rob.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Jack Rupert, PE   9/18/2012 11:14:09 AM
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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?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Rob Spiegel   9/18/2012 12:03:56 PM
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So, with those devices, Chuck, would it know where it is in relation to floor, ceiling and pillars? 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Rob Spiegel   9/18/2012 12:10:35 PM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Ann R. Thryft   9/18/2012 1:12:06 PM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Rob Spiegel   9/18/2012 1:50:32 PM
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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.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Jack Rupert, PE   9/18/2012 2:13:01 PM
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I've noticed that too, Rob.  It seems that a lot of mainstream developments come out of either the gaming industry or another "nameless" industry used for the distributioin of electronic media.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Who needs a pilot
Rob Spiegel   9/18/2012 2:30:10 PM
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That "nameless" industry has created very significant changes, particularly in the publishing industry, Jack. And more disruption to come: TV, retail, you name it.

bobjengr
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bobjengr   9/22/2012 1:40:12 PM
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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.  

 

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