AI News, Microdrones That Cooperate to Transport Objects Could Be Future of Warehouse Automation

Microdrones That Cooperate to Transport Objects Could Be Future of Warehouse Automation

Vijay Kumar’s lab at UPenn has been working on using their GPS-independent quadrotors for transporting payloads, and they’re doing it collaboratively—the idea is that objects that are too large or heavy for one quadrotor to move can instead be moved by multiple quadrotors working together, and ultimately, they could be the best way to move items around a warehouse.

Although the complexity of such systems increases with the number of vehicles, the additional vehicles allow the transport of payloads that cannot be transported by a single vehicle because of size and payload constraints, and can provide robustness to the system to compensate for single vehicle failures.

While each quadrotor can do a decent job estimating its position from camera and inertial data alone, that estimation will gradually drift away from the drone’s true location, getting worse and worse the farther the drone moves.

Better localization means better, more reliable performance, and even with cargo, the video above shows the quadrotors zipping around at speeds of 4.2 m/s and accelerations of 5 m/s2, a “level of agility and autonomy [that] has never before been accomplished at this scale,” according to the researchers.

In the future, we aim to have a complete system that will be able to automatically infer to an operator the number and types of vehicles needed to pick each object in a coordinated fashion and transport them to the final destination.

Moreover, the algorithm will allow multiple teams to concurrently pick different objects in the warehouse guaranteeing obstacle avoidance and solving the overall transportation task in an optimal and distributed way.

We are working on pursuing experiments with multiple quadrotors and studying the tradeoffs between increased control authority and increase in inertia of the system, between improved localization estimates because of cooperation and the increase in complexity resulting from an increase in the number of constraints.

Microdrones That Cooperate to Transport Objects Could Be Future of Warehouse Automation

Vijay Kumar’s lab at UPenn has been working on using their GPS-independent quadrotors for transporting payloads, and they’re doing it collaboratively—the idea is that objects that are too large or heavy for one quadrotor to move can instead be moved by multiple quadrotors working together, and ultimately, they could be the best way to move items around a warehouse.

Although the complexity of such systems increases with the number of vehicles, the additional vehicles allow the transport of payloads that cannot be transported by a single vehicle because of size and payload constraints, and can provide robustness to the system to compensate for single vehicle failures."

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