Conference paper

Optic flow to control small UAVs

Autonomous flight in confined or cluttered environments such as houses or urban canyons requires high manoeuvrability, fast mapping from sensors to actuators and very limited overall system weight. Although flying animals are well capable of coping with such situations, roboticists still have difficulties at reproducing such capabilities. This paper describes how we took inspiration from flying insects to progress toward the goal of developing small UAVs able to dynamically fly in cluttered environments. This endeavour allowed us to demonstrate a 10-gram microflyer capable of fully autonomous operation in an office-sized room using fly-inspired vision, inertial and airspeed sensors. This encouraging result is now being ported to outdoor scenarios such as low-altitude flight in urban or mountainous environments. Important is that these autonomous capabilities are achieved without the help of GPS nor active range finders, which allows to develop very lightweight autopilots.

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