November 10 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology Year: Beyond Rating: 1
A large problem with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is that they cannot avoid objects such as power lines or bridges. It is for this reason UAVs are not allowed in civilian areas here in the US. That could change with new technology being developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. “Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have modified a commercial civilian UAV helicopter made by Yamaha to be able to see obstacles it encounters.” The ability to dodge objects is crucial for UAVs expecting to fly low to the ground.
The UAV can run off of maps pre-programmed into its system, or it can generate its own map by using a laser scanner built into it. This allows the prototype itself to fly up to 36kph at an altitude of 5 meters around objects in recent trials.
What does this mean for robotics?
While some ground robots have had laser scanners installed in them before in order to navigate obstacle courses, this is the first time it’s been used in an aerial drone. The hope is to eventually incorporate this technology into larger, full-sized helicopters which can fly into dangerous areas to rescue wounded soldiers. So in the next few decades when you crash your Stirling engine hybrid, you might be taken to the hospital in a robotic helicopter.