How drones could build real-world networks to transform delivery of food, medicine, mail, and more | Trends in the Living Networks

The rise of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) has been at the forefront of the news over the last months, with issues emerging that range from the remote use of military force to domestic privacy.

However there are many very positive applications of drones. Matternet, spawned from a Singularity University program, envisages creating a network of drones to address developing world problems. Over a billion people are geographically isolated and are often not able to access regular transport and the goods that can travel to them. Rather than building physical infrastructure, drones can cheaply and easily allow drugs, food, and other essentials to get to where they are needed. The video below shows the Matternet Vision.

poptech:

Autonomous robotic plane flies indoors at MIT

For decades, academic and industry researchers have been working on control algorithms for autonomous helicopters — robotic helicopters that pilot themselves, rather than requiring remote human guidance. Dozens of research teams have competed in a series of autonomous-helicopter challenges posed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI); progress has been so rapid that the last two challenges have involved indoor navigation without the use of GPS.

But MIT’s Robust Robotics Group — which fielded the team that won the last AUVSI contest — has set itself an even tougher challenge: developing autonomous-control algorithms for the indoor flight of GPS-denied airplanes. At the 2011 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), a team of researchers from the group described an algorithm for calculating a plane’s trajectory; in 2012, at the same conference, they presented an algorithm for determining its “state” — its location, physical orientation, velocity and acceleration. Now, the MIT researchers have completed a series of flight tests in which an autonomous robotic plane running their state-estimation algorithm successfully threaded its way among pillars in the parking garage under MIT’s Stata Center.