Dart-Shooting Drone Attacks Trees for Science

Sensor-laden darts can collect data in hazardous or inaccessible environments

By Evan Ackerman

We all know how robots are great at going to places where you can’t (or shouldn’t) send a human. We also know how robots are great at doing repetitive tasks. These characteristics have the potential to make robots ideal for setting up wireless sensor networks in hazardous environments—that is, they could deploy a whole bunch of self-contained sensor nodes that create a network that can monitor a very large area for a very long time.

Dart drones Image: Aerial Robotics Lab/Imperial College London


나무 공격하는 다트 슈팅 드론

    우리는 또한 로봇이 어떻게 반복적인 작업을 잘 하는지 알고 있다. 이러한 특성은 로봇이 위험한 환경에서 무선 센서 네트워크를 설정하는 데 이상적이게 만들 수 있는 잠재력을 가지고 있다. 즉, 매우 오랜 시간 동안 넓은 영역을 감시할 수 있는 네트워크를 만드는 다수의 자급식 센서 노드를 배치할 수 있다.

드론을 사용하여 센서 네트워크를 설정하는 경우 일반적으로 두 가지 옵션이 있다.

즉 센서를 땅에 떨어뜨리는 드론(쉽지만 부정확하고 제한된 위치) 또는 특정 장소에 센서를 부착하는 일종의 조작기를 사용하는 드론(불만하고 위험함)이다. 임페리얼 칼리지 런던의 에어리얼 로보틱스 연구소의 연구원들이 개발하고 있는 세 번째 옵션은 레이저를 이용한 센서 장착 다트용 발사 플랫폼으로 드론을 사용함으로써 수동 낙하 안전성과 사용 편의성에 직접 접촉하는 정확성을 제공한다.

이 다트들은 (연구자들이 공기역학적으로 안정되고, 장착된 센서 포드라고 부르는) 스프링식 발사대에서 발사된 후 약 10cm의 정확도로 최대 4m 떨어진 곳에서 비교적 부드러운 표적에 박을 수 있다. 조작기를 장착한 드론만큼 정확하지는 않지만 꽤 괜찮고, 드론은 센서를 추가하려는 표면으로부터 안전한 거리를 유지할 수 있다. 

물론 나무와 같은 것에만 작용하겠지만, 연구자들은 자석, 접착제, 화학적 결합 또는 미세스핀 등 사용할 수 있는 부착 메커니즘이 풍부하다고 지적한다.

황기철 콘페이퍼 에디터

Ki Chul Hwang Conpaper editor curator

edited by kcontents

When it comes to using drones to set up sensor networks, you’ve generally got two options: A drone that just drops sensors on the ground (easy but inaccurate and limited locations), or using a drone with some sort of manipulator on it to stick sensors in specific places (complicated and risky). A third option, under development by researchers at Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Lab, provides the accuracy of direct contact with the safety and ease of use of passive dropping by instead using the drone as a launching platform for laser-aimed, sensor-equipped darts. 

These darts (which the researchers refer to as aerodynamically stabilized, spine-equipped sensor pods) can embed themselves in relatively soft targets from up to 4 meters away with an accuracy of about 10 centimeters after being fired from a spring-loaded launcher. They’re not quite as accurate as a drone with a manipulator, but it’s pretty good, and the drone can maintain a safe distance from the surface that it’s trying to add a sensor to. Obviously, the spine is only going to work on things like wood, but the researchers point out that there are plenty of attachment mechanisms that could be used, including magnets, adhesives, chemical bonding, or microspines.

via youtube

edited by kcontents

Indoor tests using magnets showed the system to be quite reliable, but at close range (within a meter of the target) the darts sometimes bounced off rather than sticking. From between 1 and 4 meters away, the darts stuck between 90 and 100 percent of the time. Initial outdoor tests were also successful, although the system was under manual control. The researchers say that “regular and safe operations should be carried out autonomously,” which, yeah, you’d just have to deal with all of the extra sensing and hardware required to autonomously fly beneath the canopy of a forest. That’s happening next, as the researchers plan to add “vision state estimation and positioning, as well as a depth sensor” to avoid some trees and fire sensors into others.

And if all of that goes well, they’ll consider trying to get each drone to carry multiple darts. Look out, trees: You’re about to be pierced for science.

“Unmanned Aerial Sensor Placement for Cluttered Environments,” by André Farinha, Raphael Zufferey, Peter Zheng, Sophie F. Armanini, and Mirko Kovac from Imperial College London, was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.



Posted by engi, conpaper Engi-

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