London, June 27 IANS | 1 month ago

You may have seen in films flying robots seamlessly communicating and cooperating with humans working in labs on the Earth while negotiating danger zones effortlessly, this may soon be a reality.


Now, a new research from University of Sheffield in Britain leads this concept that has fascinated people for long in fiction to actually work in reality, paving way for robots that can 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.

"As we develop robots for use in space or to send into nuclear environments - places where humans cannot easily go - the goal will be for them to understand their surroundings and make decisions based on that understanding," said Sandor Veres, professor at University of Sheffield.

Using simple flying robots, called quadcopters, the researchers have 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 3D 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.

Programming developed by the team enables the quadcopters to work out how to "politely" fly past each other without colliding, the researchers claimed.

The researchers used a computer concept called game theory to programme the quadcopters.

(Posted on 27-06-2014)