New Algorithm Flies Drones Faster Than World-Class Human Racing Pilots
To be useful, drones need to be quick. Because of their limited battery life, they must complete whatever task they have — searching for survivors on a disaster site, inspecting a building, delivering cargo — in the shortest possible time. And they may have to do it by going through a series of waypoints like windows, rooms, or specific locations to inspect, adopting the best trajectory and the right acceleration or deceleration at each segment.
Algorithm outperforms professional pilots
The best human drone pilots are very good at doing this and have so far always outperformed autonomous systems in drone racing. Now, a research group at the University of Zurich (UZH) has created an algorithm that can find the quickest trajectory to guide a quadrotor — a drone with four propellers — through a series of waypoints on a circuit. “Our drone beat the fastest lap of two world-class human pilots on an experimental race track,” says Davide Scaramuzza, who heads the Robotics and Perception Group at UZH and the Rescue Robotics Grand Challenge of the NCCR Robotics, which funded the research.