Mini Helicopter ‘Sensorfly’ That Cannot Be Knocked Out - CTTEC - Carnegie Mellon University

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mini Helicopter ‘Sensorfly’ That Cannot Be Knocked Out

Scientists have developed mini helicopter, ‘Sensorfly’, that can remain airborne even after getting knocked to the ground and can also caution fellow copters if they hit an obstacle.

According to a report in New Scientist, the ‘minicopters’ have been developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley in Moffett Field, California. The robotic copter is manufactured by adding custom processors, sensors and software to rotors and motors from an off-the-shelf toy helicopter. Each robot has a radio, accelerometer, compass and gyroscope.

The copter senses if it hits something, then backs off and warns fellow copters around of the rough location of the obstacle. The copter will hover in a place as long as the twin rotors are spinning.

It is designed in such a way that if it is knocked to the ground, the craft is airborne again after repeated trials. Squadrons of the craft can be connected with each other using radio. They share information between themselves and back to a controller and use the time delay on the radio signals to track their relative positions.

“The current prototypes can carry only 5 grams of cargo, but that is enough for a small camera or microphone,” said Zhang.

“The networked helicopters are the most lightweight mobile sensor network to date,” he said.

Currently, the ‘Sensorfly’ can only keep up the flight for 5 minutes, which, as per Zhang, should get better with superior batteries.

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