Collaborating Authors

Davide Scaramuzza's seminar on 13 November – Autonomous, agile micro drones: Perception, learning, and control


This Friday the 13th of November at 8pm UTC (3pm EDT/12pm PDT), Robotics Today are hosting an online seminar with Professor Davide Scaramuzza from the University of Zurich. "Robotics Today – A series of technical talks" is a virtual robotics seminar series. The goal of the series is to bring the robotics community together during these challenging times. The seminars are open to the public. The format of the seminar consists of a technical talk live captioned and streamed via Web and Twitter, followed by an interactive discussion between the speaker and a panel of faculty, postdocs, and students that will moderate audience questions.

How to keep drones flying when a motor fails


Robotics researchers at the University of Zurich show how onboard cameras can be used to keep damaged quadcopters in the air and flying stably – even without GPS. As anxious passengers are often reassured, commercial aircrafts can easily continue to fly even if one of the engines stops working. But for drones with four propellers – also known as quadcopters – the failure of one motor is a bigger problem. With only three rotors working, the drone loses stability and inevitably crashes unless an emergency control strategy sets in. Researchers at the University of Zurich and the Delft University of Technology have now found a solution to this problem: They show that information from onboard cameras can be used to stabilize the drone and keep it flying autonomously after one rotor suddenly gives out.

Bio-inspired retina allows drones to almost see in the dark with no motion blur


A group of researchers from the University of Zurich and NCCR Robotics is giving drones a new way to see. Their innovation is an eye-inspired camera that can easily cope with high-speed motion and even see in near-dark conditions--crucial functionality as drones become more autonomous and applications for drones more widespread. Autonomous and semi-autonomous drones need to know their precise position and orientation in space at all times to fly safely. Commercial drones use GPS, but that can be unreliable in cities. Conventional cameras can help drones fix their location, but they need ample light to function effectively. Autonomous drones that rely on computer vision are also restricted to flying below speeds that cause motion blur, which renders vision algorithms useless.

New algorithm flies drones faster than human racing pilots


To be useful, drones need to be quick. Because of their limited battery life they must complete whatever task they have – searching for survivors on a disaster site, inspecting a building, delivering cargo – in the shortest possible time. And they may have to do it by going through a series of waypoints like windows, rooms, or specific locations to inspect, adopting the best trajectory and the right acceleration or deceleration at each segment. The best human drone pilots are very good at doing this and have so far always outperformed autonomous systems in drone racing. Now, a research group at the University of Zurich (UZH) has created an algorithm that can find the quickest trajectory to guide a quadrotor – a drone with four propellers – through a series of waypoints on a circuit.