Now, a physics student from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL) in Switzerland has developed an autonomous drone capable of flying around obstacles thanks to a vision algorithm that’s modeled off of insect eyes.
Insect vision is far more basic than ours, which means a vision system similar to an insect’s would require far less complexity than one that’s based off of human vision. “Using cameras to simulate the human eye requires a lot of computing power” said physics student Darius Merk in a press release. “For this, the drone would need to have a small on-board computer, which would make it difficult to miniaturize.”
Rather than weighing the drone down with an on-board computer, Merk reimagined the machine’s vision and developed and algorithm that’s inspired by the faceted vision of insects. To maintain a 360-degree view, the drone needs two cameras which amount to over one ounce.
“Insects find their way by using their optical flow to assess how an image moves, with a distant object moving more slowly than a closer one,” Merk said.
Since the drone requires so little computing power, it may be possible to shrink the device to just four inches in length, making it ideal for tasks that entail squeezing into tight spaces, such as search missions in the rubble of a natural disaster.
- See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos
- This fully autonomous $400 drone folds like a book, follows you like a paparrazzo
- Tiny FlyCroTug drones can open doors and pull objects 40 times their weight
- The best drones under $500
- The history of drones in 10 milestones