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University of Alicante researchers design second-generation drones

Based on artificial intelligence, aircrafts can make their own in-flight decisions and work in a team



Images of the research team, drone prototypes created by the researchers and  test flights with commercial prototypes


Alicante. Monday, 2 November 2015

A group of researchers at the University of Alicante Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence has designed a high-level control system allowing the drones to fly autonomously. Thanks to this built-in control board technology, the aircraft can switch among different flight plans or define the optimal displacements depending on the environment and the information received by its sensors. Also, the system incorporates an on the ground communication device which allows establishing new flight plans when the aircraft is in motion.

This system is a significant advance over those already existing as it does not require constant monitoring and has the autonomy to modify the path with the ultimate goal of fulfilling its mission. Similarly, the control board allows for easy communication amongst all aircraft drones in a team to enable the resolution of a task coordinately.

In short, this technology enables performances and artificial intelligence-based systems, as well as the development of multi-drone behaviours.

Its uses are many as it is a programmable device and can vary from the development of both pilot assistance applications to autonomous systems. "Examples could be the search for resources cooperatively to improve both the time and the security of the systems with a single drone; parcel delivery with possibility of calculating optimal path in real time; development of a surveillance patrol distributed and coordinated in real time, among others", as UA project co-director and researcher Fidel Aznar stated.

"This is a step toward a second generation of drones so that, little by little, they can be smaller, cheaper, and able to perform tasks completely autonomously", Aznar said.

This technology developed by the UA is applicable to all types of aircraft using MAVLINK communication protocol, which is today in all types of either aerial or ground unmanned devices.

The patented system is part of the project "Sistemas de enjambre inteligentes de vehículos aéreos no tripulados para tareas de seguridad y vigilancia" ((Intelligent swarm systems of unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and security tasks), financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and ERDF. The research group members are Fidel Aznar, Mar Pujol, Ramón Rizo, Pilar Arques, Mireia Sempere, Francisco J. Mora, María José Pujol, Evaristo Colomina and Javier Botana.



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