Making Drones Safer with Motion Planning Algorithms

By: | February 23rd, 2016

The image above shows Stanford University researchers working on algorithms for real-life-dependable spacecraft motion planning. The same technology is now being integrated into drones.

Safer Drones Will Help the Technology Go Mainstream

A recent report showed a professional skier nearly being hit by a drone which was filming at a skiing event from above. That the skier was nearly badly injured has brought home the danger of drones to the general public. With millions of drones now in the hands of amateurs and millions more to be purchased, solutions to drone accidents must come from drone manufacturers and software.

Motion Planning Algorithms

New motion planning algorithms can help drones avoid obstacles. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), including Anirudha Majumdar, are creating new algorithms that calculate free and unobstructed regions found in complicated obstacle courses. Algorithms can now choose flight paths and maneuvers, changing course in just 0.2 seconds. The following video shows the project at MIT.

What researchers are doing is creating motion tracking modules that use embedded sensors to create a stream of data that tracks drones at rest and in motion. In a sense, the challenge is a big data challenge as more and more data is necessary to perfect self-navigating drones.

The following infographic, “Robots in the Sky: Cracking Down on Drone Law,” illustrates some recent drone headlines, proposed FAA regulations, a sampling of state laws, and safety guidelines.

Michael Cooney

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