Robotics

Robots fly to swarm 24/7 at RoboHouse


Image source: Bitcraze

Yes, you heard that right: the goal is permanent airtime. Robotic flies roam the rooms in the RoboHouse without human guidance – achieved within six months. In the future, 24/7 swarms like this could revolutionize aircraft inspection. Imagine a fighter jet covered in hundreds of nano drones that produce detailed images in minutes. It’s a challenging mission, but not all challenges are the same. So we asked every member of the Crazyflies team: What’s your favorite problem?

Lennart #myfavoritdesignproblems

OK, maybe permanent flying a little excessive, at some point the battery needs to be recharged, but remains the essence of the overall design. For the members of the Lennart team, this was the main challenge: “We want to optimize the charging process so that you have as many drones in the air as possible with the minimum number of charging pads.”

Every Crazyfly it can be turned off for seven minutes before needing to be recharged for 35 minutes. Through the use of a wireless charging pad, human intervention is cancelled, the alternative is manual battery replacement.

Seppe # my favorite design problem

But the challenge goes beyond battery strategy. Seppe’s student identified his favorite obstacles to overcome in avoiding crashes: “These include not only collisions between drones, but also with stationary objects,” Seppe told us. “By implementing proper sensors and coding, these risks are minimized. But the strength of a strong system lies not in mitigating risks, but in handling them when they occur.”

Servaas my favorite design problem

Servaas’ favorite challenge is related to his counterpart: round-trip latency. Or in English: the time it takes for flying AI insects to send out their observations and receive commands in return. “Depending on how long this transfer of information takes, for example we could allow drones to react to more unpredictable objects such as people.” Maybe real flies can also identify such objects.

Robot flies are tested in a drone cage to help further their development and achieve their team’s goals.

Andreas #myfavoritedesignproblem

Apart from technical aspects, Andreas defines solving real-world problems as his goal: “Designing swarm drones that fly autonomously 24/7 is cool, but we also want to have real impact through real-world applications.” Andreas tries to fulfill this desire by conducting market research and identifying problems that have no solution. One such application could be the inspection of large or difficult-to-access infrastructure such as bridges or power lines.

Andrea #myfavoritedesignproblems

Not coming from a robotic background, for the fifth team member, Andrea’s challenge was getting used to all the software involved. Luckily, Andrea managed to learn the tools of the trade, finding insect-AI autonomy one of the next exciting challenges to tackle.

Recently this team of students even received an NLF prize for their work, an award from the Dutch Air and Aerospace Foundation.

Drones

But wait, this doesn’t complete the team yet. There were a hundred other individuals, literally also on the team. The students have entered Crazyflies in their team, decided to name them ‘members 6 to 105’. The drone will inspect the infrastructure on its own, only stopping occasionally to recharge its batteries.

Cyber ​​Zoo

If all goes well, Crazyflies could become part of the Crazy Zoo robot exhibition at the TU Delft Campus, an initiative by Chris Verhoeven, leader of the swarm robots theme at TU Delft. But for now, students have a lot of work in their hands to fulfill their dreams and face challenges. We are sure they will fly high.

Post Robots fly to swarm 24/7 at RoboHouse appeared the first time Robot House.


Rens van Poppel



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