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The AirBurr is an autonomous flying robot specifically designed for missions in difficult, confined environments with minimal sensing. Inspired by the simple yet robust navigation strategies of insects, the AirBurr can navigate complex, cluttered environments due to its unique ability to resist and recover from collisions.

In this video the AirBurr navigates a corridor and a narrow doorway towards a light source using the signals from 4 simple photodiodes. This strategy is particularly adapted to following faint signals in unstructured, cluttered environments, such as gas leaks in collapsed industrial plants. The AirBurr is then programmed to explore a small room using a random direction algorithm similar to the one used by most robotic vacuum cleaners. This exploration strategy is useful in situations where other sensors cannot be used. It is demonstrated through a flight in a completely dark room where vision-based navigation isn’t possible, and can also be used in smoke-filled environments where laser scanners have trouble functioning correctly.

More information on the project can be found at:
http://lis.epfl.ch/airburr

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