Drones as small as a fingernail may one day buzz overhead, thanks to research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A team in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science designed a 20 square millimeter computer chip that can process inertial and camera images — two critical components of drone flight — in real time.
It isn’t the team’s first microchip rodeo. Last year, it used a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), a type of highly configurable integrated circuit, to develop a drone control chip that required just 2 watts of power and 2GB of memory. But shrinking the design wasn’t easy.
“In traditional robotics, we take existing off-the-shelf computers and implement [state estimation] algorithms on them, because we don’t usually have to worry about power consumption,” Sertac Karaman, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and the lead researcher on the project, told MIT News. “But in every project that requires us to miniaturize low-power applications, we have to now think about the challenges of programming in a very different way.”
Welcome to drone day on the Adafruit blog. Every Monday we deliver the latest news, products and more from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), quadcopter and drone communities. Drones can be used for video & photography (dronies), civil applications, policing, farming, firefighting, military and non-military security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. Previous posts can be found via the #drone tag and our drone / UAV categories.
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