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Jan 2018 | No Comment

Coordinated drone swarm fly in tight formation – without GPS

Getting quadrotor drones to work together in swarms can lead to some spectacular, and potentially immensely useful, displays. However, in order for them to function together as a group, most drones rely on GPS or an external motion-capture system to keep them working together. That is fine in a lot of scenarios, but it is still a limiting factor that reduces where these drone swarms can be used. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania may have a solution, however. In a step toward autonomy for flying robot swarms, they managed to teach a swarm of a dozen quadrotors to fly together in formation effectively – using nothing more than a small downwardlooking camera with a 160-degree field of view and a simple inertial measurement unit (IMU.) The result is reportedly the world’s biggest swarm of drones not relying on either GPS or motion capture.

“The solution is cheap and inexpensive, and the architecture we propose is scalable and extensible,” Dr. Giuseppe Loianno, a research scientist on the project. “These terms are used to refer to the ease of adding additional agents to the system without sacrificing overall performance. This is the first time that perception, planning, and control are combined for autonomous navigation of multiple interchangeable aerial vehicles – up to 12 quadrotors – without relying on GPS or an external motion capture system. We have released all the hardware and software components used in this work. In the future, we want anyone being able to fly a swarm of aerial vehicles without the use of expensive motion capture systems, and in areas where GPS is not available.” Each drone in the group keeps track of its precise location and then sends updates to a ground station, which sends commands back to the swarm to make them change their location. The drones themselves are not really aware (well, as far as any drone is aware) that it is in a swarm, but rather follows instructions that happen to involve large numbers of drones working together in coordination. The system makes it possible to add more drones or easily reduce the numbers without a problem.

EU frames new rules on drone registration

The European Union (EU) member states have reached a deal on the reform of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which includes Europe’s first policy on drones.

Drone owners and operators in Europe will now have to register their devices if they are “dangerous” and aircraft makers have to ensure that black box recordings can be downloaded in real-time if a plane is in distress under a new reform of Europe’s aviation safety agency.

Drones that have a kinetic energy of over 80 joules based on their mass and maximum speed will be characterized as “dangerous”. The European Parliament had pushed for a registration threshold of 250 grams but EU governments strongly opposed it. The rules will be applicable to all drones, including those manufactured for private use.

US suspects DJI might be sending sensitive data to China

DJI is an established name in the international drone market but as per US Homeland Security, DJI might be sending sensitive US data to China, as per a New York Times article.

According to a Homeland Security memo cited by the New York Times “The Chinese government is likely using information acquired from DJI systems as a way to target assets they are planning to purchase.

The memo goes on to add “DJI is particularly interested in exploiting data from two critical infrastructure sectors: U.S. railroads and utilities. DJI squarely refuted the allegations in a statement to the New York Times, saying that the report was “based on clearly false and misleading claims.” “The allegations in the bulletin are so profoundly wrong as a factual matter that ICE should consider withdrawing it, or at least correcting its unsupportable assertions,” the company said.

President Kovind dedicates AP fiber grid, drone project to nation

President of India Ram Nath Kovind has dedicated Andhra Pradesh (AP) Fibre Grid and drone project to the nation.

The vision of Fibre Grid project is “to establish a highly scalable network infrastructure, accessible on a nondiscriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable and end-to-end broadband connectivity of 15 Mbps for all households and 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps for institutions & Offices by 2018, to enable realization of the Vision of Digital AP, in partnership with the Government of India and the private sector.” AP State FiberNet Limited (APSFL) is responsible for undertaking the works of AP Fibergrid , its operations and maintenance and business activities. The AP government wants to use drones for governance, administration, and for the maintenance of law and order in the state.

BAE Systems’ MAGMA UAV completes first flight trails

BAE Systems and the University of Manchester have successfully performed first flight trials of Magma small-scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The Phase I trials of the UAV controlled by blown-air system form a part of an ongoing project between the two organizations and a long-term collaboration between industry, academia and the government to develop new flight control technology. Two technologies, wing circulation control and fluidic thrust vectoring, will be tested on the Magma UAV.

UAV LiDAR mapping with direct georeferencing

In an alliance formed to make small airborne LiDARs cost-effective and accurate, Applanix has developed a small, lightweight and low powered DG (Direct Georeferencing) solution and applied it to Think 3D’s Stormbee multicopter, integrated with Trimble’s AP15, to make it possible and deliver maximum efficiency, accuracy and performance for LiDAR surveys for any unmanned aerial vehicle. The Stormbee is a directly georeferenced UAV LiDAR solution for 3D Industrial Mapping applications, that is designed to collect survey grade spatial data in efficient way than static LiDAR. It uses 3D mapping technology including FARO’s Focus 130 laser scanner, Trimble’s AP15 GNSS/Inertial receiver, Applanix’s POSPac UAV GNSS/ Inertial Post-Processing software and Stormbee’s proprietary Beeflex software for LiDAR Point Cloud Generation.

UAE’s first e-platform for UAVs announced

The first unified electronic platform for UAVs and air vehicles to be used in the UAE for recreational, service and commercial purposes has been announced. The platform, called Unified Pilot System for Unmanned Aircraft Products and Systems, is a result of the UAE government’s “desire to provide a civil aviation environment and a safe community for practice”. It will be used to obtain unmanned aircraft information and conform to the UAE standards established by the Committee for Monitoring the Implementation of the Light Sports System.

Traders and suppliers are now required to register their products from unmanned aircraft through the platform, which will be used in accordance with the requirements and standards of the General Authority for Civil Aviation.

Precise autonomous vehicle localisation and navigation

Civil Maps has announced the availability of Fingerprint Base Map, a scalable solution for precise autonomous vehicle localisation and navigation. Architected from the ground up to meet the demands of production-scale vehicle autonomy, Fingerprint Base Map allows self-driving cars to precisely determine their location in six degrees of freedom (6DoF), while evaluating the safest route to travel. This technology serves as the localisation layer in the company’s HD Semantic Map

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