MIT Using VR to Train Drones or UAV to Navigate Autonomously
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has done an interesting study using VR involving drones or UAV recently. UAV or “Unmmaned Aerial Vehicle” is a type of aircraft with no human pilot inside it and it is piloted remotely. For this breakthrough, quite a number of researchers involved in this experiment.
In this study by MIT, they let the drone fly in the empty room. But actually from the drone’s perspective, it is flying inside a room full of cupboards and furniture. And the interesting part is that, the UAV is flying while dodging all the virtual objects. That’s kinda cool…
How the Drones Work in VR?
They named the system as “Flight Goggles“. Consider this as the training system for the drones which use virtual reality approach. They are using Unity to create the virtual environment with photo-realistic images that the drones “see”. They also use motion capture cameras to track the orientation of the drones. And the important thing is to have powerful electronic device to process the images and then transmit it to the drones.
The challenge is how to make the drones to move faster and at the same time to perform high-computing to assess their surroundings and avoid the collision. This is fine-tuned in the navigation algorithm of the drones.
The main benefit of this is that it will reduce the number of physical crashes by the drones while improving their flying skill. They can failed many times during the experiment with no major and significant impact on cost of money (or grant). Just imagine how many times the drones need to be repaired or replaced if all the objects are real. This indirectly contributed to the cost saving also. Kudos to the MIT researchers!!
This small feat will likely contribute to the great future of the autonomous drone. Imagine our food and parcel being delivered in front of our door using this UAV. This will be awesome like autonomous car. To make this work, it will involve a lot of machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence) skills beside the VR. For more info, you can read it at:
1) “Researchers develop virtual-reality testing ground for drones” from MIT News.
2) The Agile Drones Website from MIT.
3) “MIT Researchers Are Using Virtual Reality to Prevent Drone Collisions” from The Drive.