'NanoMap' Programs Drone Navigation in Uncertain Environments
Programming drones to fly through cluttered spaces like cities is difficult. Avoiding obstacles while traveling at high speeds is computationally complex, especially for small drones that are limited in how much they can carry onboard for real-time processing. A team from MIT introduces NanoMap, a system that allows drones to consistently fly 20 miles per hour through dense environments like warehouses and forests. NanoMap considers the drone's position in the world over time to be uncertain, and then models and accounts for that uncertainty. The system uses a depth-sensing system to stitch together a series of measurements about the drone's immediate surroundings - allowing it to not only make motion plans for its current field of view, but also anticipate how it should move around in the hidden fields of view that it has already seen.