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Novel way to monitor drone's parametres

Posted on Aug 22 2014 | IANS

New York, Aug 22 : Drones are the future of home delivery and surveillance but to achieve this consistently, they will have to tackle high winds and other uncertainties like depletion of fuel.

Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a novel system that makes it easy for drones to undertake lengthy delivery missions.

The team first developed an algorithm that allows a drone to monitor its "health" in real time.

With the algorithm, a drone can predict fuel levels, the condition of its propellers, cameras, and other sensors throughout a mission and make smart moves - like a refuelling stop if needed.

The researchers also devised a method for a drone to calculate future locations before it takes off. This simplifies potential routes to get to the destination accident free.

"With something like package delivery, which needs to be done persistently over hours, you need to take into account the health of the system," said Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi, from MIT.

Interestingly, in our simulations, we found that, even in harsh environments, out of 100 drones, we only had a few failures, he added.

The team will now test the approach in experiments with drones that pick up and drop off small parcels and land on customised recharge stations.

"We believe in the near future, we can show what we are gaining with this framework by delivering as many packages as we can while preserving health," Agha-mohammadi noted.

Not only the drone, but the package might be important, and if you fail, it could be a big loss, he concluded.

The research is scheduled to be presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Chicago Sep 14-18.

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