Engineers taught drones to play a bouncer. The new drone control system allows them to respond so quickly that they manage to catch and throw the ball. The work of researchers from the University of Zurich is published on the university website.
Most modern obstacle avoidance systems require around 20-40 milliseconds to process environmental changes. This is too much for situations where a drone needs to avoid a collision with a bird or other drone.
The slow reaction speed makes free navigation a problem in large cities, where many drones can fly in a limited area, or in areas of natural or technological disasters, where drones need to move fast.
In a new study, scientists equipped the quadrocopter with cameras specifically designed to detect fast movement, as well as new algorithms that made their response several times faster. As a result, the time required to process data and prevent collisions was reduced to 3-5 milliseconds.
As a demonstration of the possibilities of the new approach, the researchers gave the drones a command to play the bouncer (Dodgeball) – a dynamic ball game where two drones should hit the ball in the third.