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MIT teaches drones to fly with uncertainty

MIT teaches drones to fly with uncertainty
From TechCrunch - February 14, 2018

MIT researchers are working on a new steering system for drones that uses uncertainty to ensure that they dont hit obstacles as they fly autonomously. The system is a bit complex but its called NanoMap and it quite simply finds ways to get from point A to point B without crashing and while handling random objects in its path.

Spectrum describes the system in detail but basically the drone takes a depth measurement as it moves along a path. Each time it takes a measurement and is about to move forward it looks back at previous measurements which could include some information pertinent to the current motion. If it cant find anything useful it slows down and assesses the area and if it does find previous information it keeps flying, avoiding obstacles as it goes.

This is important because current models require a drone to map its surroundings before becoming confident that it can handle flying around more quickly. This technique creates an on the fly map that lets the drone handle uncertainty as opposed to being ready in every situation. Further, this allows drones to zip between pillars or trees and base their next move on information gathered on the fly and not over time. From the study:

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