IEEE Spectrum: ‘Microdrones That Cooperate to Transport Objects Could Be Future of Warehouse Automation’
Following up on an earlier story about the GRASP lab’s new swarming technology that uses only onboard cameras and sensors, IEEE Spectrum’s Evan Ackerman checks back in with GRASP research scientist Giuseppe Loianno to talk about another advance.
Instead of simply flying in formation, these quadrotors carry objects together, sharing the load of cargo that would be too heavy for any one robot.
Being able to operate without an external camera monitoring the position of the robots is a tough task, but adding in an object to be carried can actually make it easier in some ways. According to Ackerman,
While each quadrotor can do a decent job estimating its position from camera and inertial data alone, that estimation will gradually drift away from the drone’s true location, getting worse and worse the farther the drone moves. With two (or more) quadrotors rigidly connected while transporting an object, you can combine the location estimates from each robot to optimize both of their positions, resulting in a much more accurate estimate that drifts less.
Continue reading at IEEE Spectrum.