15.2.2020

New method for GPS-denied navigation for closed spaces

Can scout drones be programmed with new tricks? – link

Source: C4ISR

Article Headlines

  • With thick, concrete walls, a controlled point of access, and the possibility for ambush by infantry and armed vehicles, parking garages in urban combat can serve as makeshift fortifications, hiding a great deal of future pain inside
  • To spare the lives of humans, exploring such buildings is a task best done by robots. Yet the interiors of buildings, especially such massive stone-and-metal artifice, can make it difficult for GPS navigation and radio control
  • One possible solution comes from Exyn Technologies, which announced this week that it has built code to allow drones to fly in and map a GPS-denied environment. Exyn calls this mission behavior “Scoutonomy,” to really drive home that it lets small drones scout, autonomously.
  • That process involves small drones flying and mapping in real-time, creating a useful picture of the world around them which both the drones and humans can use to understand the space. It includes the ability to detect and navigate around obstacles in the area being mapped, such as people or vehicles
  • The same scouting protocols could let drones explore buildings in a disaster response scenario for example finding people who need rescuing without jeopardizing the lives of human rescuers in the process

Overview & Comments

  • In January 2018 DARPA launched the subterranean challenge with the key objective of thinking about a range of platforms that can work across any kind of underground
  • One such diversified approach is the “marsupial solution,” where one robot carries other robots on its back (think: smaller quadcopters). Using a main body for endurance with a smaller body for flight and aerial mapping combines the better attributes of two kinds of transportation
  • Subsequent tests in urban and cave environments are planned to come in February and August 2020, respectively, with a final event in August 2021
  • Navigation aside, being the most challenging element for flight in confined spaces, there are various interesting platform developments for flight in tight spaces – See examples in the videos below

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