Researchers at the University of Zurich, the Università della Svizzera italiana, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland have developed software enabling drones to autonomously detect and follow forest paths. With the new drones, missing persons can be found and rescued quickly in forests and mountain areas.
Every year, thousands of people lose their way in forests and mountain areas. In Switzerland alone, emergency centers respond to around 1,000 calls annually from injured and lost hikers. But drones can effectively complement the work of rescue services teams. Because they are inexpensive and can be rapidly deployed in large numbers, they substantially reduce the response time and the risk of injury to missing persons and rescue teams alike.
A group of researchers from the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Zurich has developed artificial intelligence software to teach a small quadrocopter to autonomously recognize and follow forest trails. A premiere in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, this success means drones could soon be used in parallel with rescue teams to accelerate the search for people lost in the wild.
Breakthrough: Drone Flies Autonomously in Demanding Terrain
“While drones flying at high altitudes are already being used commercially, drones cannot yet fly autonomously in complex environments, such as dense forests. In these environments, any little error may result in a crash, and robots need a powerful brain in order to make sense of the complex world around them,” says Prof. Davide Scaramuzza from the University of Zurich.
The drone used by the Swiss researchers observes the environment through a pair of small cameras, similar to those used in smartphones. Instead of relying on sophisticated sensors, their drone uses very powerful artificial-intelligence algorithms to interpret the images to recognize man-made trails. If a trail is visible, the software steers the drone in the corresponding direction. “Interpreting an image taken in a complex environment such as a forest is incredibly difficult for a computer,” says Dr. Alessandro Giusti from the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “Sometimes even humans struggle to find the trail!”.
Successful Deep Neural Network Application
The Swiss team solved the problem using a so-called Deep Neural Network, a computer algorithm that learns to solve complex tasks from a set of “training examples,” much like a brain learns from experience. In order to gather enough data to “train” their algorithms, the team hiked several hours along different trails in the Swiss Alps and took more than 20 thousand images of trails using cameras attached to a helmet. The effort paid off: When tested on a new, previously unseen trail, the deep neural network was able to find the correct direction in 85% of cases; in comparison, humans faced with the same task guessed correctly 82% of the time.
Professor Juergen Schmidhuber, Scientific Director at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence says: “Our lab has been working on deep learning in neural networks since the early 1990s. Today I am happy to find our lab’s methods not only in numerous real-world applications such as speech recognition on smartphones, but also in lightweight robots such as drones. Robotics will see an explosion of applications of deep neural networks in coming years.”
The research team warns that much work is still needed before a fully autonomous fleet will be able to swarm forests in search of missing people. Professor Luca Maria Gambardella, director of the “Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence” in Lugano remarks: “Many technological issues must be overcome before the most ambitious applications can become a reality. But small flying robots are incredibly versatile, and the field is advancing at an unseen pace. One day robots will work side by side with human rescuers to make our lives safer.”
Prof. Davide Scaramuzza from the University of Zurich adds: “Now that our drones have learned to recognize and follow forest trails, we must teach them to recognize humans.”
The Latest on: Autonomous drones
via Google News
The Latest on: Autonomous drones
- Aero-TV At XPO21: Aergility Profiles The ATLIS Autonomous Hybrid Electric UAVon November 28, 2021 at 9:01 pm
Aergility brought their newest ATLIS model to XPOnential 2021, and James Vander Mey, CEO, took some time to give our ANN Chief Editor Jim Campbell the rundown on how things are going. The Atlis will ...
- CLROBUR successfully showcases drone delivery in Yeongwol with 3D UAM/UTM systemon November 27, 2021 at 9:22 pm
CLROBUR‘s DROW, an AI-integrated automatic flight ground control platform (GCP) that uses urban air traffic management (UATM) technology, has opened a new chapter in the field of logistics by ...
- Video: Autonomous military vehicle featuring deployable drone introducedon November 27, 2021 at 10:00 am
A military unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) dubbed Rook has been developed through a collaboration between Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense firm and U.S. autonomous vehicle manufacturer Roboteam. The ...
- Autonomous Diving Drones Market Share: Global Industry Trends, Growth, Size, Segmentation, Future Demands, Latest Innovation, Forecast to 2027on November 26, 2021 at 10:06 pm
The Autonomous Diving Drones Market report is a valuable source of insightful data for business strategists It provides the industry overview with growth analysis and historical futuristic cost ...
- OSU Resaearchers Launch Autonomous Drones to Study Wildfireson November 26, 2021 at 6:31 am
Researchers with The Ohio State University are using autonomous drones to help prevent and mitigate wildfires. As witnessed by the ongoing blazes across the U.S., wildfires are difficult to predict an ...
- Drones, hyperloops and autonomous vehicleson November 26, 2021 at 3:12 am
Stating: “As well as [ changes to car ownership] we’ll be getting deliveries by different routes in terms of drone delivery.” However, he cautioned that we shouldn’t expect flying cars yet because “we ...
- A cascading catastrophe: The drone threat to critical infrastructureon November 26, 2021 at 3:00 am
As drones become cheaper and more capable tools for terrorists, the risks they pose to critical infrastructure is growing. Has the US government thought enough about how to defend the electric grid ...
- Skycharge unveils new autonomous charging technology for drones, DiaB (drone-in-a-box) and AGVson November 26, 2021 at 1:25 am
Thanks to six years of experience in this field, Berlin-based Skycharge today is announcing a new charging technology for drones and AGVs, engineered to let you build charging pads, and AGV docking ...
- Best drones 2021: Drones for beginners and advanced pilotson November 25, 2021 at 6:23 am
The list of the best drones available has been growing at speed recently, with some seriously impressive models available offering the latest in UAV technology. These drones, from several ...
- Robotic vehicles, drones coordinate recon at Army’s Project Convergence 21on November 23, 2021 at 10:36 am
It's this idea of collaborative sensing,” said Col. Andre’ Abadie, referring to one autonomous system talking to another to, say, confirm enemy positions or equipment.
via Bing News