Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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40 unmanned systems inside June/July 2017 Illustration courtesy of Ahmed Hussein, Assistant Lecturer and PhD Student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in Spain. or SAR missions in areas completely changed by a natural disaster—would require more interaction and communication among the UAS. Both types of swarming capabilities are evolving, with industry experts expecting them to play a larg- er role in the market in the not-so-distant future. "What we have today is a single drone perform- ing a single task," said Ian Smith, who is the cre- ator and host of the podcast Commercial Drones FM. "A swarm of drones can accomplish tasks to- gether that would normally not be possible for a single drone. It really opens up so many possibili- ties on how these robots can improve the quality of our lives." Swarms for Entertainment When Intel put together its first drone light show, the Drone 100, a few years back, the team had to manually create the animations with each drone in each timeframe, as well as run through a few itera- tions of the simulator to prepare to f ly the chore- ography in time with a live orchestra, said Natalie Cheung, general manager of Intel Drone Light Shows. During that first show near Hamburg, Germany, 100 drones painted 3-D shapes and messages in the sky, setting a Guinness World Record for most UAS airborne at the same time. Since then, these small, lightweight drones (at about 280 grams they weigh less than a volleyball) have completed Drone 100 shows all over the world and have entertained live audiences at Walt Disney World as well as the Super Bowl, and Coachella. Now the onsite team, which is made up of four or five people instead of the 16 to 20 required in the beginning, can complete the animation and setup for the actual performance much faster. Shows that once took a week and a half to prepare for now only take about five days. The Intel team learned a lot from that first Drone 100, leading the company to create a more dynamic, automatic system designed to reduce the number of potential failures, Cheung said. The software Intel has developed for the Shooting Star drones helps them understand how to better f ly their UAS; it's no longer based on a person con- A s drones fl y together, they need to keep a safe distance so they don't collide. Ahmed Hussein, an assistant lecturer and PhD student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in Spain, is looking at how the potential-fi eld method can help. Also known as Attractive and Repulsive Potential Fields, this method is based on the concept of electrical charges. In this case, the drones are considered positively charged particles. Because they have the same charge, the drones repel away from each other to avoid collisions during fl ight. All the distances are calculated based on the Brushfi re algorithm over an occupancy grid map, he said. Using this technique, the robot knows it can go anywhere on the map as long as there is no similar charges there to repel it. "The biggest advantage of the potential fi eld method for navigation is it has low computational time," Hussein said. "In other words, it can fi nd the best path to follow in the shortest amount of time, which is crucial during last minute maneuvers." MAINTAINING A SAFE DISTANCE The drones are in a triangle formation, where there is one leader and two followers. When the leader detects the charges of the two obstacles at the front, it communicates back to the other drones to inform them they need to change formation to a straight line so they can all pass between the two columns. AIR NEW APPLICATIONS

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