- LAST NEWS: NASA Includes Swedish UAV in BVLOS Testing
- LAST NEWS: Germany Plans New Drone Regulations
- LAST NEWS: Drone World Expo 2017 – Registration Now Open
- LAST NEWS: $1M Prize for Bridge Inspection by Drones
- LAST NEWS: South Korea to Train 1,700 Drone Operators Annually
- LAST NEWS: Leidos Pilots New Service for UAS
- LAST NEWS: First BVLoS Power Line Inspection Flight in New Zealand
- LAST NEWS: DARPA Awards Phase 2 Gremlins Program Contracts
- LAST NEWS: Amazon Patents Drones with Telescoping Landing Legs
- LAST NEWS: US Air Force Buys Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells
Drones and Insect Biobots to Map Disaster Areas
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a combination of software and hardware that will allow them to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and insect cyborgs, or bio-bots, to map large, unfamiliar areas – such as collapsed buildings after a disaster.
“The idea would be to release a swarm of sensor-equipped bio-bots – such as remotely controlled cockroaches – into a collapsed building or other dangerous, unmapped area,” says Edgar Lobaton, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of two papers describing the work.
“Using remote-control technology, we would restrict the movement of the bio-bots to a defined area,” Lobaton says. “That area would be defined by proximity to a beacon on a UAV. For example, the bio-bots may be prevented from going more than 20 meters from the UAV.”
The bio-bots would be allowed to move freely within a defined area and would signal researchers via radio waves whenever they got close to each other. Custom software would then use an algorithm to translate the bio-bot sensor data into a rough map of the unknown environment.
Once the program receives enough data to map the defined area, the UAV moves forward to hover over an adjacent, unexplored section. The bio-bots move with it, and the mapping process is repeated. The software program then stitches the new map to the previous one. This can be repeated until the entire region or structure has been mapped; that map could then be used by first responders or other authorities.
“This has utility for areas – like collapsed buildings – where GPS can’t be used,” Lobaton says. “A strong radio signal from the UAV could penetrate to a certain extent into a collapsed building, keeping the bio-bot swarm contained. And as long as we can get a signal from any part of the swarm, we are able to retrieve data on what the rest of the swarm is doing. Based on our experimental data, we know you’re going to lose track of a few individuals, but that shouldn’t prevent you from collecting enough data for mapping.”
Co-lead author Alper Bozkurt, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State, has previously developed functional cockroach bio-bots. However, to test their new mapping technology, the research team relied on inch-and-a-half-long robots that simulate cockroach behavior.
In their experiment, researchers released these robots into a maze-like space, with the effect of the UAV beacon emulated using an overhead camera and a physical boundary attached to a moving cart. The cart was moved as the robots mapped the area.
“We had previously developed proof-of-concept software that allowed us to map small areas with biobots, but this work allows us to map much larger areas and to stitch those maps together into a comprehensive overview,” Lobaton says. “It would be of much more practical use for helping to locate survivors after a disaster, finding a safe way to reach survivors, or for helping responders determine how structurally safe a building may be.
“The next step is to replicate these experiments using bio-bots, which we’re excited about.”
An article on the framework for developing local maps and stitching them together, “A Framework for Mapping with Biobotic Insect Networks: From Local to Global Maps,” is published in Robotics and Autonomous Systems. An article on the theory of mapping based on the proximity of mobile sensors to each other, “Geometric Learning and Topological Inference with Biobotic Networks,” is published in IEEE Transactions on Signal and Information Processing over Networks. The third co-lead author on both papers is Alireza Dirafzoon, a former PhD. student at NC State. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant CNS-1239243.
2017-03-27Germany Plans New Drone Regulations
On January 18 2017 the German government introduced a draft regulation to create sufficient regulations to deal with these risks by amending the existing fragmented provisions and establishing rules to liberalise the commercial use of drones.
2017-03-27NASA Includes Swedish UAV in BVLOS Testing
Swedish manufacturer SmartPlanes has announced that the SmartPlanes Freya UAV is included in the NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) R&D Technical Capability Level 3 (TCL 3) project, at the FAA-designated Nevada UAS test site. SmartPlanes is represented by its US distributor Carbon Autonomous.
2017-03-23Drone World Expo 2017 – Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for Drone World Expo 2017. From October 3-4, the 3rd annual Drone World Expo will once again gather thousands of thought leaders, end-users and decision makers in the commercial drone industry at the San Jose Convention Center.
2017-03-22South Korea to Train 1,700 Drone Operators Annually
South Korea is planning to train 1,700 drone operators a year to meet growing demand in the commercial drone industry, the transport ministry said on Tuesday.
2017-03-22$1M Prize for Bridge Inspection by Drones
AutoModality, whose technology allows drones to automatically conduct close-up inspections of bridges, buildings, power lines and other structures, has won the $1 million grand prize in the Genius NY business competition.
2017-03-21First BVLoS Power Line Inspection Flight in New Zealand
A Taranaki drone company has made history by flying an unmanned aircraft ”beyond line of sight” to inspect power transmission lines in the Rimutaka Ranges.
2017-03-21Leidos Pilots New Service for UAS
Leidos Flight Service has created an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) service that helps safeguard the airspace by sending automatic notifications of unmanned aircraft operations to relevant groups.
2017-03-20DARPA Awards Phase 2 Gremlins Program Contracts
DARPA recently completed Phase 1 of its Gremlins program, which envisions volleys of low-cost, reusable unmanned aerial systems (UASs)—or “gremlins”—that could be launched and later retrieved in mid-air. Taking the program to its next stage, the Agency has now awarded Phase 2 contracts to two teams, one led by Dynetics, Inc. (Huntsville, Ala.) and the other by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (San Diego, Calif.).
2017-03-20Amazon Patents Drones with Telescoping Landing Legs
A diagram shows how an Amazon drone could land on a sloping surface while keeping its main frame level, thanks to telescoping landing legs. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)
2017-03-17US Air Force Buys Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells
US Air Force security forces, as well as other military personnel and federal law enforcement agencies, may soon be getting a new tool to take down small commercial drones: shotgun shells with a net. The special cartridge is just one system the Pentagon has been looking at to manage the growing threat from small and readily available quad-and hex-copter-type unmanned aircraft.
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
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