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The Military Robotics Technology

MIT Drone Finds Its Way Using Kinect Vision 77

garymortimer writes "This MIT multicopter is able to fly in GPS denied environments by creating a 3D map of its surroundings on the fly (no pun intended) based on point clouds generated by a Kinect. Also pretty handy for avoiding trees and other obstacles outside at low level. This processing is onboard, unlike other systems that depend on motion capture rigs."

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MIT Drone Finds Its Way Using Kinect Vision

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:25AM (#35666428)

    before the Kinect came out?

    Frankly, I'm pretty sure most of this stuff *already* existed before the Kinect came out. I'm just wondering exactly how much Microsoft mass producing the hardware saved the researchers on having to make their own devices.

    I imagine it's quite a bit since we went from "hardly any talk about robot vision except about how goddamned hard it is" to "A NEW ROBOT/CAMERA/WHAT HAVE YOU USING THE KINECT AS ITS EYEBALLS!!!!!" every week once the Kinect was out for a month.

    I'm complaining, yeah, but I'm also trying to put things into perspective. These aren't leaps and bounds of tech, they're just leaps and bounds of people actually making use of the damned hardware since they don't have to sell their second child to pay for it.

    Crowdsourcing I guess? Instead of 2-3 sterile environments trying to figure out robot vision algorithms, now a bajillion institutes and hobbyists are working on the problem. I guess one way or the other, this is a big step in the fields of autonomous robotics and so on. Now if only we could work on the goddamned speech recognition software... The hardware for that's been around for ages and yet people haven't been messing about with it as much as they do with the Kinect.

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble@hotmail . c om> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:28AM (#35666472)
    As much as it's unpopular, we should all thank Microsoft for putting this great piece of kit out in the public and even moreso for not going after the API which is floatng out there like many corporations do nowadays.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:51AM (#35666712) Homepage

    Lets not forget MS didn't invent it, they wrapped in a package and sold it. I don't think they could really have a hope stopping any API

    Well, they didn't actively encrypt or obfuscate it. So, at least they decided to play nicely and let people develop for this.

    What corporation would go after a completely home brown [sic] API package for a physical device?

    Well, I know you're not new here ... but, really? I think Sony would sue people into oblivion for something like this at the drop of a hat. It seems to be increasingly the norm for some corporations to more or less say that it is illegal to use hardware they sold you in a way they don't approve of. Seems to be Cuecat did it several years ago.

    And, corporate hand-wringing aside, I think it's really cool that people are using the Kinect to make things like this. From the sounds of it, this is opening up lots of interesting avenues for researchers to be able to build cool things.

    I for one, welcome our new fully autonomous 3D navigating multicopters. :-P

  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#35666738)

    Here's a question: All these university researchers are using Wii controllers and Kinect devices to do research. How come they didn't invent this stuff themselves?

    They did, long ago. This sort of thing is usually developed as a demonstrated concept in an academic lab. Proof of concept devices are ungainly, expensive, and incomplete, but they show that the academics' idea works and has potential for further development. Then companies take that public domain knowledge and make products from it. These are much cheaper and better packaged. Now the products are part of our technology culture, so they're natural tools for the next round of academics to use as tools for further innovation.

    Is it because they couldn't think in mass-market terms so their solutions were overly complex and expensive?

    Now here's another question: Why don't Nintendo and Microsoft make developers kits for their devices sans game console? Or even better, make the open source (I can dream)?

    Microsoft is releasing Kinect for PC with an SDK supposedly intended to enable this sort of development. They chose to leave the output from the existing Kinect interface unencrypted, too, resulting in the already large homebrew scene demonstrated in storied like this.

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