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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AIR NEW APPLICATIONS 44 unmanned systems inside June/July 2017 20 minutes. Each has its own personality that comes through during the performances, which is what makes developing them so much fun for the team at Intel. Raffaello D'Andrea, professor of control systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and founder of Verity Studios, also uses drone swarms to entertain large audiences. He's conducted re- search in his lab, the Flying Machine Arena, for more than 10 years and is always look- ing for ways to improve the technology that guides these vehicles. A few years ago, D'Andrea created SPARKED, a short film that explored what drones could do in a theatrical setting. ETH Zurich, Verity Studios and Cirque du Soleil collaborated on the film, with Cirque du Soleil deciding to transfer the concept over to Paramour, a major Broadway production. The Paramour drones have been performing eight shows a week for about a year—alongside and with the same regularity as human actors, D'Andrea said. The drones, outfitted as color- ful lampshades, come to life on the stage and are guided by Verity's proprietary localization system, which replaces cameras. The redun- dant UAS rely on fail-safe algorithms for each live performance. They listen in on the posi- tioning system to determine where they are, so there's no need for them to communicate with each other as they light up the Broadway stage. As with most technology in this industry, D'Andrea said the performing drone f leets will only continue to become more robust and more mainstream. Photo and illustration courtesy of Saga. DEALING WITH WEATHER O ne of the challenges of fl ying swarms, much like fl ying a single drone, is the weather—especially when it comes to agricultural applications, said Vito Trianni, a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR) in Italy. He needs to be able to demonstrate that the systems he's working on can safely operate in any kind of weather conditions. That's even more diffi cult with smaller systems like the ones Trianni envisions deploying over farm fi elds. Lightweight drones tend to struggle in windy and other adverse conditions, making it diffi cult to complete the necessary tasks. Even so, Trianni said the agricultural industry will probably be one of the fi rst commercial industries to incorporate drone swarms. "You can work in remote areas," Trianni said. "And of course the cost goes down when you have a large number of machines that work in parallel. They can provide timely information about the condition of the fi eld. In time, it will be much more common to see small swarms of drones that collect data on the fi eld." 20 minutes. Each has its own personality entertain large audiences. He's conducted re- Researchers who are part of the Swarm Robotics for Agricultural Applications (SAGA) experiment plan to demonstrate how swarm robotics principles apply to agriculture.

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