Something for the programming and robotics dudes/guys....check it out
IF DRONES are ever going to monitor road traffic, say, they will need a way to automatically avoid other aircraft. This is vital in case the drone loses radio contact with its ground pilot, but the radar systems needed to see other aircraft are too heavy for most lightweight drones.
Now Debadeepta Dey of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a possible solution. If drones only fly in clear weather, when visual flight rules allow light aircraft to fly without radar, corners can be cut. That means video cameras and image-processing software can do a drone's sense-and-avoid work, says Dey.
His team has written software that applies three filters to a drone's video feed. The first detects contrast deviations in the sky that might be aircraft in the distance. The next filter sorts distant aircraft from, say, much nearer birds by their shape. The third then tracks the motion of the object to see if it is steady and flies like an aircraft, rather than a bird, allowing false positives to be removed.
In early test flights the team has achieved a 98 per cent success rate at picking up aircraft at ranges of up to 8 kilometres (International Journal of Robotics Research, DOI: 10.1177/0278364911412807).