Samira Hayat and I attended re:publica 2017 in Berlin. It was an exciting event not least because Samira gave a very personal talk about drones and their application in disaster response.
I visited the Center for Aerial Robotics Research and Education in Toronto. It has an exciting research portfolio in small drone systems. My invited talk discussed wireless communications for drones and novel results for job selection.
We highlight research issues for wireless networking in aerial systems consisting of multiple small autonomous drones. Among these challenges are video streaming, synchronization, security and safety, and interference management.
Mobile robots in explorer missions need to charge their batteries from time to time. Different policies for coordinated recharging in teams of robots are evaluated.
“One of my first memories relating to the word ‘drones’ is that of an online video of a man. He was angry and revengeful [and] told the story of how he lost his whole family,” Samira Hayat began her talk at the 2016 TEDx event Ripples of Curiosity at the European research center CERN near Geneva on November 5.
New packages for the Robot Operating System (ROS) are available for autonomous exploration of unknown environments using collaborating mobile robots equipped with cameras. The software offers wireless ad hoc communications between robots, merging of maps from different robots, and coordinated selection of exploration frontiers. A prototype with four robots was built that demonstrates its functionality in an indoor environment.
The Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems and Lakeside Labs opened their laboratories to the public on March 11. About 120 visitors informed themselves and discussed about ongoing research in the domains of mobile systems, pervasive computing, self-organizing systems, multimedia systems, and smart energy grids.
Autonomously flying robots — also called small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — are more and more exploited in civil and commercial applications for monitoring, surveillance, and disaster response. For some applications, it is beneficial if a team of coordinated UAVs rather than a single UAV is employed. Multiple UAVs can cover a given area faster or take photos from different perspectives at the same time. This emerging technology is still at an early stage and, consequently, profound research and development efforts are needed.
The cDrones team at the University of Klagenfurt and Lakeside Labs develops a system for multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide a high-quality aerial overview image of a given area of interest. Evsen Yanmaz, PostDoc in the project, explains: “It only takes a few mouse clicks for operators to define the area to be observed. To provide for autonomous coverage of the area, the software automatically computes where to take a picture and optimizes the flight routes for all UAVs. During the mission, UAVs can constantly be observed at the base station. The pictures taken during flight are immediately shown in their GPS positions on a map. A rough 3D structure is extracted from the captured images which enables us to improve mosaicking results to obtain a nice aerial overview image.”
The Lakeside Labs project cDrones performs research on networked unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their application to emergency and disaster response. Current work focuses on UAV routing, image stitching, and system integration. The video below demonstrates the following use case: An emergency response person specifies an area of interest in a map, and the system software computes appropriate waypoints and routes. Using GPS navigation, the UAVs autonomously overfly the specified area and deliver pictures to the ground station. The ground station runs an online image stitching algorithm creating a real-time update of the area map. In this way, the emergency assistants obtain an up-to-date overview image of the area. The service platform enables coordinated flights of multiple UAVs and is independent of the used UAV technology; it can also provide input to UAV simulations.