Flying robots that can show true autonomy and even a bit of politeness in working together and venturing into hostile environments are being developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield.
The research paves the way for robots to work intelligently alongside humans in ways that are currently familiar only through science fiction films. The robots could play important roles in crisis situations such as search and rescue missions, or operate in environments where it would be dangerous for humans to work.
Using simple flying robots, called Quadcopters, the team, based in Sheffield’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE), has created software that enables the robot to learn about its surroundings using a forward facing camera mounted at the front of the machine.
The robot starts with no information about its environment and the objects within it. By overlaying different frames from the camera and selecting key reference points within the scene, it builds up a 3-D map of the world around it. Other sensors pick up barometric and ultrasonic data, which give the robot additional clues about its environment. All this information is fed into autopilot software to allow the robot to navigate safely, but also to learn about the objects nearby and navigate to specific items.
The Latest on: Robot learning
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The Latest on: Robot learning
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