One of the challenges for robots in general and UAV’s in particular is how to coordinate multiple bots. It’s hard enough to make one do what you want, how can we make more than one work together. Whether the goal is “autonomous” on board direction or external remote control, it’s not easy to keep together and not bump each other.
Some of the wizards of Zurich have yet another idea, using visual tracking . (I guess we should call the usual suspects, because so much important robotics is coming from .ch.)
The stated use case is there GPS is not available, and you want to carry a payload with a team of quad copters. As they point out, there are many reasons you might want to do this, more lifting power, better ability to maneuver the payload, etc.
Their solution is a simple leader/follower scheme, with one drone setting the course, and the second keeping station behind. The video makes this very clear.
The hard part, of course, is how to follow.
Their trick is to use visual tracking, and simple algorithms to keep the leader in view.
(In the demo, they use a black and white pattern as the target, which looks like old Augmented Reality targets. That’s a blast from the past!)
- Michael Gassner, Titus Cieslewski, and Davide Scaramuzza, Dynamic Collaboration without Communication: Vision-Based Cable-Suspended Load Transport with Two Quadrotors (to appear), in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. 2017: Singapore. http://rpg.ifi.uzh.ch/docs/ICRA17_Gassner.pdf