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Drones That Drive

By MIT News

June 28, 2017

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are developing robots that can maneuver around on land and fly through the air.

The researchers have demonstrated a system of eight quadcopter drones that can fly and drive through a city-like setting with parking spots, no-fly zones, and landing pads.

The researchers developed various "path-planning" algorithms aimed at ensuring that drones do not collide. They equipped the drones with two small motors with wheels, and used simulations to determine the robots could fly for 90 meters or drive for 252 meters before losing battery power.

The researchers also tested the system using everyday materials such as pieces of fabric for roads and cardboard boxes for buildings.

"As we begin to develop planning and control algorithms for flying cars, we are encouraged by the possibility of creating robots with these capabilities at small scale," says CSAIL director Daniela Rus.

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