AI learned to control a drone in an unfamiliar space

US engineers have taught AI to fly drones in unfamiliar or tight spaces. Devices will not hurt each other even in a small room.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have unveiled a new way to fly drones in unfamiliar space. They have developed a machine-learning algorithm that allows even multiple devices to autonomously navigate themselves in tight and unfamiliar spaces. The system gives each drone a certain degree of independence, which allows it to adapt to a changing environment.

Instead of relying on maps or routes from other drones, the new model allows each vehicle to independently navigate in a given space, even if it coordinates with others. This decentralized model helps drones to improvise and makes it easier to operate drones since the computation is distributed among many robots.

An optional tracking controller helps drones compensate for aerodynamic interactions. In preliminary tests, the controller turned out to be more efficient than analogs.

This technique can be used in search and rescue operations where drones can safely sweep areas in flocks, while autonomous units can minimize traffic jams and collisions. The researchers warn that the method needs to be tested in laboratories, but in a couple of years, this model could be commercialized.