By James Holloway | Gizmag
Researches at MIT have demonstrated a remarkable new micro-UAV capable of flying and avoiding obstacles in an indoor environment. It’s autonomous, gathers data solely from onboard sensors (without GPS), and is fixed-wing—so it doesn’t have the luxury of hovering.
The team behind the research, MIT’s Robust Robotics Group, previously developed helicopter micro-UAVs which have won challenges set by Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). In recent years those challenges have focused on indoor navigation without the benefit of GPS navigation.
But with its latest UAV, the Robust Robotics Group has decided to up the ante by opting for an autonomous fixed-wing aircraft: two taxing technological problems to overcome for indoor flight. The advantages of an autonomous (i.e. self-governing) UAV are obvious, but its fixed wings are a boon, too.
“The reason that we switched from the helicopter to the fixed-wing vehicle is that the fixed-wing vehicle is a more complicated and interesting problem, but also that it has a much longer flight time,” said Nick Roy, head of the Robust Robotics Group. “The helicopter is working very hard just to keep itself in the air, and we wanted to be able to fly longer distances for longer periods of time.”