Thanks to artificial intelligence, drones can now fly autonomously at remarkably high speeds, while navigating unpredictable, complex obstacles using only their onboard sensing and computation.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Zurich have trained an autonomous quadrotor to fly through previously unseen environments – such as forests, buildings, ruins, and trains – keeping speeds of up to 40 km/h and without crashing into trees, walls, or other obstacles.
This feat was achieved by getting the drone’s neural network to learn flying by watching a sort of “simulated expert” – an algorithm that flew a computer-generated drone through a simulated environment full of complex obstacles. Now, this “expert” could not be used outside of simulation, but its data was used to teach the neural network how to predict the best trajectory, based only on the data from the sensors.
The research team says that this approach offers a significant…