Drones can estimate distances with only one ‘eye’




Researcher Guido de Croon of the Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory TU Delft has investigated how tiny drones with little power yet able to estimate distances with only one camera so they do not fly bumping.

It appears that the drones with an insect-inspired way of looking and moving at a certain distance of an object to be unstable. That unstable sounds initially affected, but De Croon aware that this also can be an advantage if the drone detects instability in time because the distance can be estimated, stands on the site of the laboratory.

Besides the practical applications for autonomous mini-drones, also investigating possible sheds new light on how insects can estimate distances. Insects make like all living creatures with eyes using an optical flow field to understand which direction is absorbed. In other words, the direction you go is gone, is more or less silent and everything in between the vanishing points and is behind moves. But despite that insects have two compound eyes, these are too close together to form a stereo image. Without good stereo imaging is very difficult to estimate distance. Yet insects properly navigate using the optical flow, so it is quite possible that they use another way to estimate distances, suggests De Croon in his paper.

drone camera eye tu delft Two flights landing of a Parrot AR Drone from four meters. Left drone responds strongly to variations in the optical flow field than the right. The left therefore starts earlier vibrating. Source: MAV Lab

The instability of the drones are coming with only one eye or camera because the drones when approaching an object or having to land only by using the optical power, are unstable. “The drones were at the end of the landing always oscillate and down,” says De Croon at the site of the university. He thought at first that it had to do with the image editing software, but he discovered that it happened as he was sure that the image measurements were perfect.

After theoretical analysis of the drone control laws “revealed that the drone optical power trying to keep constant. At a certain distance from the landing surface drone vibrates. Which generates vibrations on the drone itself because the effects on the optical power close to a surface are much greater than movements at a large distance. Through these vibrations to register on time and use, ‘knows’ the drone how far he is removed from the surface. With this theory, it becomes increasingly possible to further reduce autonomic drones because they are less “equipment” require onboard.



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