Super-lightweight drone autonomously avoids obstacles

The age of commercial and private drones is upon us, exemplified by increasingly common stories of drone mishaps and even the likes Amazon announcing plans to launch a drone delivery service in the coming years. But there may not always be enough handlers trained or available to control all the varieties of drones making their way into the skies, so one team from the Netherlands developed a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle that can traverse the skies on its own.

The DelFly Explorer is the first flapping wing MAV that can perform autonomous flight. It carries a stereo vision system with processing onboard which is used to avoid obstacles. It is also equipped with a barometer to maintain its height. This combination of sensors enables the 20 grams DelFly Explorer to perform a take-off, to ascend to a chosen height and to fly around for up to 9 minutes without the need of external control. Successful tests have been peformed in different indoor spaces such as our lab as well as lecture rooms. The current record of 9 minutes is restricted by the battery.

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