Drones

RAFAGA system allows autonomous drones to find their way without GPS

RAFAGA system allows autonomou...
RAFAGA allows drones to navigate via visual landmarks, not GPS coordinates
RAFAGA allows drones to navigate via visual landmarks, not GPS coordinates
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RAFAGA allows drones to navigate via visual landmarks, not GPS coordinates
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RAFAGA allows drones to navigate via visual landmarks, not GPS coordinates
Prof. Martinez Carranza with one of the drones used in his research
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Prof. Martinez Carranza with one of the drones used in his research

While there's a great deal of excitement surrounding the concept of autonomous delivery drones, the aircraft would likely all utilize GPS to navigate – and GPS satellites aren't always available. That's why Prof. Martinez Carranza has developed a new drone navigation system, that's based purely on visual observations.

Carranza is a researcher with Mexico's National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE). He developed the system as part of the RAFAGA (Robust Autonomous Flight of unmanned aerial vehicles in GPS-denied outdoor areas) project during his postdoc at The University of Bristol.

Prof. Martinez Carranza with one of the drones used in his research
Prof. Martinez Carranza with one of the drones used in his research

Users of the system start with a Google Maps-like satellite image of the area that they want the drone to traverse, and draw a flight path on that map – not unlike the autonomous flight software currently used by many personal drones.

Whereas those aircraft proceed to follow GPS waypoints, however, a RAFAGA-enabled drone uses its onboard camera to identify buildings or other features on the ground, matching them up with their aerial images on the satellite map.

Not only is the technology reportedly more reliable than GPS, but the required hardware (cameras, accelerometers and gyroscopes) is also simpler and less expensive.

Source: Investigacion y Desarrollo (Spanish)

1 comment
mksmith76g
How will these craft ever work without running into phone and power lines not to say anything of people hacking the control system and dropping off packages on top of homes or buildings or worse stealing merchandise. I see how this would be more profitable for the company by not having drivers, trucks and fuel cost but public safety is being set aside for those profits.