We’ve seen the unmanned car but now, Kinect has made it possible to put Autonomous Navigation to a Quadrotor flight machine. Researcher Patrick Bouffard and Prof. Claire Tomlin spearheaded this project and released a video of a flight machine’s capability to navigate itself with the help of the Kinect. As seen in the video, the Kinect mounted at the top of the Quadrotor machine detects incoming obstacles, sends data to the computer and adjusts the flight path of the Quadrotor accordingly. The machine also stops if the Kinect encounters an obstacle in its path.

Here is a description of the process used by the developers:

“The attached Microsoft Kinect delivers a point cloud to the onboard computer via the ROS kinect driver, which uses the OpenKinect/Freenect project’s driver for hardware access. A sample consensus algorithm  fits a planar model to the points on the floor, and this planar model is fed into the controller as the sensed altitude. All processing is done on the on-board 1.6 GHz Intel Atom based computer, running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

A VICON motion capture system is used to provide the other necessary degrees of freedom (lateral and yaw) and acts as a safety backup to the Kinect altitude–in case of a dropout in the altitude reading from the Kinect data, the VICON based reading is used instead. In this video however, the safety backup was not needed.”

This Quadrotor Flight Machine with Autonomous Navigation is a product of the STARMAC Project in the Hybrid Systems Lab at UC Berkeley. For more information about this project, visit their website.


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