Our video this week comes courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania, where researchers have developed a mini drone capable of extremely tight autonomous manoeuvres.
To navigate, the 250g quadrotor has an onboard inertial measurement unit (IMU) that uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to report on the UAV’s specific force and angular rate. The IMU, in combination with a single forward-facing camera, feeds into an onboard processor that controls the drone.
According to the researchers, the tiny vehicle is able to traverse tight gaps requiring accelerations up to 1.5g, roll and pitch angles up to 90 degrees, and velocities of 5m/s. They claim it’s the first time aggressive manoeuvres such as these have been achieved with such a small UAV using only onboard technology.
This breakthrough in autonomous flight comes just as Sky announced a $1m investment in the Drone Racing League (DRL), where top pilots fly identical UAVs through obstacle courses using First Person View (FPV) headsets. The DRL will air on the new Sky Sports Mix channel from this October.