Autonomous Flying Vehicles
Posted on October 11, 2006 Comments (6)
The vehicles in MIT’s test platform are inexpensive, off-the-shelf gadgets; they can be easily repaired or replaced with a new vehicle, just as might happen in a real-world scenario involving numerous small UAVs on a long-term mission. The researchers can thus experiment constantly without concern for mishaps with expensive equipment.
In addition, the team recently achieved a milestone in autonomous flight: landing on a moving surface. Using “monocular vision,” one of the quadrotors successfully landed on a moving vehicle — a remote-controlled lab cart. A video camera fastened to the UAV uses a visual “target” to determine in real time the vehicle’s distance relative to the landing platform. The ground station then uses this information to compute commands that allow the UAV to land on the moving platform. This technology could enable UAVs to land on ships at sea or on Humvees moving across terrain.