Study: Drone Swarm Can Self-Organize in the Air

A team of Hungarian researchers have created a swarm of ten drones that can “self-organize” in the air.  The project was modeled on birds such as pigeons, “which fly in tight bunches while making adjustments and decisions.”

Tamas Vicsek, a physicist at Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University said “We came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to understand how animals move together is to build robots — flying robots.” 

The drones can negotiate tricky paths, such as when their route becomes tightly confined. When that happens, some of them hover in place to wait their turn. And it’s all done without a central computer or controlling device, the researchers say. Instead, they use “flocking algorithms,” says Gabor Vasarhelyi, who led the robotics phase of the project.

“Drones are most commonly associated with war, terrorism, and cyberattacks, but drones can be used in more peaceful civil applications as well,” Vasarhelyi says. “With a flock of drones, you can create a self-organized monitoring system from the air, or you can even deliver food or mail.”

The team of designers will debut their flying robot drone swarm at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems conference this year in Chicago.  They will present their paper titled “Outdoor flocking and formation flight with autonomous aerial robots.” 


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