/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

On the Current and Future Technology of Drones

Quite an interesting overview of the current technology of Drones.  Below the intro, article at the link.

When Drones Fly   By Samuel Greengard
Communications of the ACM, November 2019, Vol. 62 No. 11, Pages 16-18

As drones have matured into smarter and more practical machines, they have hummed, buzzed, and whirred their way into industries as diverse as movie production, agriculture, civil engineering, and insurance. It is entirely clear that autonomous drones will play a prominent role in business in the coming years. Firms such as Amazon, FedEx, and Uber have experimented with the technology to deliver packages, food, and more, while military agencies, emergency responders, gaming companies, entertainment firms, and others have explored other possibilities.

"Drones introduce far more efficient ways to accomplish some tasks," says Todd Curtis, president of Airsafe. com, a site that tracks drone and other aeronautic technologies.

Powering more advanced drones are more sophisticated on-board sensors and processors, better artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, and more advanced controllers and communication systems. In addition, engineers are packing greater numbers of sensors into drones—and using them in different combinations—to create greater "awareness" of the surrounding environment. This sensing, when combined with GPS and other navigation capabilities, allows drones to tackle more advanced autonomous tasks, including devices that explore caverns or other hard-to-reach spaces, as well as underwater drones that conduct research by scanning oceans.

Yet, despite rapidly evolving capabilities, it also is clear that autonomous drones have not completely mastered the art and science of navigating and accomplishing their designated task. Buildings, birds, power lines, trees and people remain formidable obstacles for autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), as they are known. Fog, snow, smoke, and dust present additional challenges.

It is one thing to showcase a drone in a controlled environment; it is quite another to have it operate flawlessly in the wild. UAVs must have near-perfect vision and sensing, as well as the ability to navigate areas where satellite and communications signals cannot reach and need backup and fail-safe systems that can take control of the drone if/when something goes astray.

"We are seeing remarkable advances in onboard sensing and processing, but also the use of far more sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms in drones," says Nathan Michael, associate research professor at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. "These navigation and control systems are moving drones beyond the basic ability to fly from Point A to Point B. They're making it possible for drones to understand the world around them and make complex decisions in real time."  .... ' 

No comments: