Maxim Kirilov, Yuri Bakolin, and Yuval Kovler, three software engineering students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, have developed a program that makes the AR Drone helicopter autonomous – allowing it to fly without being remote-controlled.
With the new program, the drone – equipped with two cameras and an ultrasound sensor – receives instructions by Wi-fi from a computer in range.
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Kirilov, Bakolin and Kubler developed the project to see how an autonomous drone could be used for various daily purposes, such as security sweeps of the university's corridors. A video clip demonstrates the technology in use for agricultural purposes, such as pollinating flowers and identifying plant blights in vineyards.
Multiple uses for the autonomous drone - from agriculture to patrols
"We built a program designed to broadcast video images in real time from the drone, analyze the video data, and transmit appropriate flight instructions," Kovler explains to Ynet.
How does it work? The developers demonstrate, setting down a "flight path" marked in red tape. The drone's camera takes pictures of the tape, and transfers the images to a computer via Wi-Fi. The image is analyzed and processed with additional information from the sensors, and the information determines what additional flight instructions the drone receives.
Kovler says that at this point, the three don't intend to market the project, but aren't "ruling that possibility out" for the future.
For more information and additional pictures, visit the project site