They are everywhere watching us. They are the ubiquitous drones, the new clone of Orwell’s Big Brother. Why not think about how to use them in new support tasks? The swarm of drones traveling through the forest is a breakthrough on this path.
Fly in a swarm
Flying through dense forests is a challenge for even the smartest drone. Trying to do it as part of a crush is a lot harder. But the researchers have now figured out how to do it.
The approach is based on a single drone navigation technology. Quickly assign routes around obstacles if these are only visible with the on-board camera and the drone’s computer. The researchers adjusted the swarm by having the drones broadcast their trajectories over a wireless network. This allowed the other drones to choose routes that avoid collisions while staying in formation.
The technique was published on the arXiv server last month. It takes very little processing power and works even if the wireless connection is incomplete. In real tests, a swarm of three drones was able to move quickly through a forest of randomly arranged trees.
More and more drones
The focus should be easily scalable, say the researchers. You have already “flown” swarms of up to 10 virtual drones in computer simulations of densely populated forests. The technology could be very promising. Especially for search and rescue missions in disaster areas. Or to inspect ecologically interesting habitats under the forest roof. The swarm of drones traveling through the forest is buzzing for good reason. Be careful: another drone might be following you.