Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Technology

MIT Researchers Develop Autonomous Indoor Robocopter 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-it-drops-water-balloons-i'll-take-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at MIT's Robust Robotics Group have developed a robotic helicopter capable of autonomously flying inside buildings or other GPS-denied environments. It has an on-board camera and a laser scanner that maps the local environment. The video talks about search-and-rescue and civil engineering applications, but it also brings somewhat scary reminders of Minority Report to my head. How long till I see one of these chasing me down a dark alley? The team's website has more videos showing earlier stages of the project."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MIT Researchers Develop Autonomous Indoor Robocopter

Comments Filter:
  • Citizen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday October 18, 2009 @10:38AM (#29784157) Journal

    Article just has some videos, but here's [gamona.de] a few pictures [nocookie.net] of it [gamespot.com].

    And I suggest a good behaviour when they fly in - otherwise these machines will come in [visualwalkthroughs.com].

  • Baseball Bat 1, Helicopter 0.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      Good luck with that [youtube.com].

    • by nizo (81281) *

      How good is your bat at protecting you from a stun gun or bullets being administered by an object that is hovering ten feet away?

    • Baseball Bat 1, Helicopter 0.

      Chucking some sand at it would probably work better; nothing like sand in the air intake to choke an engine. Also carrying a small bag of sand in your pocket is less conspicuous than carrying a baseball bat all day. While it might work at more than baseball bat range, it would still be limited to a couple of meters.

      A longer range method would be using one of those nice green laser pointers to saturate its visual detectors so it crashes into a wall. The higher powered green lasers from http://www.wickedla [wickedlasers.com]

  • Oh, so that's why my brother is having trouble getting his remote outdoor helicopter to properly maintain position for over a few seconds.

    If he would only do it indoors in a large structure! ...with multiple props.. /sarcasm ;)

    I love the length of outdoor shots. Looks pretty par to me.

    • Consider the focus is ground-level surveillance in "buildings or other GPS-denied areas" (think caves in Afghanistan), I don't think wind is going to be as much of an issue as you believe it to be. Also, if you understood anything about the greater inherent stability of the quad-rotor design (let alone the fact that it is being combined with gyroscopic stabilization) you would understand very quickly how incredibly ignorant your post is.

      Besides the fact that the primary coolness of this particular bot is
      • You know you're making an obvious statement to someone who understands this, hence the sarcasm.

        The outdoor comment at the end was the only one I had with a non-humorous intent. Par.

  • All that's needed is the saw blades.

    • All that's needed is the saw blades.

      I've always found that a crowbar works well against these kind of machines. Failing that, I'd grab a gravity gun (better known as the zero-point energy manipulator) from the local scrapyard.

  • > How long till I see one of these chasing me down a dark alley?

    Carry a tennis racket. Or just throw a rock.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nizo (81281) *

      ...dark alley...

      Don't forget your night vision goggles, unless you are good at hitting things with your eyes closed.

      • by wjh31 (1372867)
        ears still work in the dark
      • And follow what the people you elect have done and then support and advocate those that have the true intrests of the people at heart rather then just voting for the guy giving you 300 dollars or makes you feel good for a bit like Santa Claus but has no real plan.

        But nah, lets fear tech, that is so much cooler then just making sure those who would abuse power, don't get into power.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by John Hasler (414242)

          > And follow what the people you elect have done and then support and advocate
          > those that have the true intrests of the people at heart rather then just
          > voting for the guy giving you 300 dollars or makes you feel good for a bit
          > like Santa Claus but has no real plan.

          Yeah, yeah, but I'm still going to carry a tennis racket. Just in case.

      • by mikael (484)

        Close your eyes ... and use the force, or just aim for the sound of the gearbox.

      • ...dark alley...

        Don't forget your night vision goggles, unless you are good at hitting things with your eyes closed.

        Just use the force...

  • I'd give it a year (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Interoperable (1651953) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:03AM (#29784349)

    before they strap a Google camera to the things and start taking pictures of every corner of every building that doesn't have:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

    in it's robot.txt file.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Noise and power source are massive problems that aren't likely to go away. The real problem with all non airfoil type hovering vehicles is always going to be a power source dense enough. There are actually a number of ways to propel them if energy wasn't an issue. The robotics are impressive but it'll always be a boat in the basement until these issues are addressed. They used gas as fuel obviously for this test but you have the noise factor. Electric would be quieter but then you have battery weight. Even

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by newcastlejon (1483695)
      Dammit Fusion Industries! Where's my Mr. Fusion Nano?
    • by Laser Dan (707106)

      Actually it is electrically powered, and if it is similar to other quadrotors that size, can fly for around 20 mins carrying all it's gear.

      Vehicles like this are waiting for a more dense energy source, with a longer flight time they will really start to become useful.

  • Nightmare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:36AM (#29784533) Homepage Journal
    "scary reminders of minority report"? What about scary reminder of fast rotating blades at neck altitude? People are in indoors too, and laser mapping or not, inertia and shit happens.
    • They're made from Kevlar and are all foldy. It's like sticking your hand into a desk fan which is to say will be shocking but not really painful.

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        There are some cover there, is not so trivial to get hit with the rotor even if they were blades. Still, i was talking about nightmares, and a scary one could be being in a narrow corridor with a scaled down version of real helicopter coming to you
    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      Fast rotating blades at neck altitude sounds less like Minority Report than The Twilight Zone Movie to me.

  • I am imagining a future where parts are very cheap, and then someone crosses these with these [wired.com] D:
  • Well, since they are awfully quiet....

    I wouldn't turn around right now, if I were you...

  • How long? (Score:3, Funny)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:55AM (#29784651)

    How long till I see one of these chasing me down a dark alley?

    That depends on what you were planning, citizen.

    • How long till I see one of these chasing me down a dark alley?

      Chases are overrated. I've only seen 4 police chases out of the thousands of times I've ever seen police cars. The police don't even buy the highest powered cars any more.

      Ergo, people can be caught without chases, or those who run aren't worth chasing.

      Sneakier surveillance technology could cause a major upheaval. Wall mounted cameras are still on a human scale, but if the fly on the wall is actually a spy robot, one can imagine how the stock mark

  • This is interesting, although by using a quad-rotor helicopter, they seem to have mostly solved computer vision problem rather than a control system problem

    Quad rotor and coaxial helicopters are very stable and have gotten pretty popular as entry-level helicopters because they are so easy to fly. The downside is that they don't really have the efficiency characteristics to fly outdoors like collective-pitch (e.g. like real full-size) helicopters.

    Since the focus of the challenge was to fly indoors, using a q

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, Yamaha had a fully autonomous solution for helicopter flight back in 1988. It later became the Yamaha R-MAX. And I've been working with autonomous helicopters since 2005.

    • by CompMD (522020)

      Like the AC who also responded, I've done a lot of work with UAVs. I did some work on the Yamaha R-MAX. It can takeoff and land fully autonomously. Northrop also has the MQ-8B Fire Scout which is capable of fully autonomous flight. Then you have the Boeing Little Bird, the unmanned demonstrator for that was a full size conventional helicopter...and on and on...this isn't new. You can build a fully autonomous Raptor 50 helicopter for less than $10,000.

  • Please tell me it uses a small wooden crate for tomatoes for an ammo box.

  • That's almost as good as the Bladestar [wowwee.com], available now for only $24.95 [amazon.com] Yes, an indoor helicopter with radio control and collision avoidance for $24.95. WowWee manages to produce incredible capabilities at very low price points.

    The MIT thing is neat, but it's mostly possible because IMU units and laser scanners are finally small enough for this.

    The time-of-flight laser scanner thing has been frustrating. That's what you want in a robot; they're just too expensive for volume or hobbyist use. 3D LIDAR sc

  • Why make a robocopter if it is not also a dildocopter?
  • by Tibia1 (1615959)
    Did no one else see this vital application use?
  • For the past 20 years or so, anytime you needed a robocopter chasing someone down a dark alley, computer graphics was the answer. But how cool would it be to do this as a practical effect with no wires involved? Of course, people are so used to CG effects that they'd probably think the real thing looked fake.

    P.S. Michael Bay can shove this robocopter up his ass. And I seriously hope he does.

    • by westlake (615356)

      But how cool would it be to do this as a practical effect with no wires involved?

      You won't be doing this with an autonomous mini-copter - unless the actors are CGI or matted in later.

      Apart from the risk of injuries or property damage, the director needs control of the shot.

      The automated tracking that looks good in a studio test may not work so well on location.

      Pixar can spend four years solving problems like this within the wholly artificial and controlled environment of an animated film.

  • "How long till I see one of these chasing me down a dark alley?"

    Don't worry, I'm sure some day some brilliant underground scientist will re-discover the baseball bat.

  • Silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @06:08PM (#29787467)
    Why a helicopter when you could use a blimp type device? Million times easier and more stable. And less fragile or dangerous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > Million times easier and more stable. And less fragile or dangerous.

      And large. And slow.

    • by Laser Dan (707106)

      Why a helicopter when you could use a blimp type device? Million times easier and more stable. And less fragile or dangerous.

      Any sort of wind an you're off for a little detour...

      Even air conditioning can make things difficult.

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." -- Mark Twain

Working...