Watch this self-piloting drone effortlessly dodge a soccer ball being thrown at it in real-time

Drone Obstacle Avoidance

  • A new video from the University of Zurich shows an autonomous drone ducking and dodging a soccer ball being thrown at it in real time.
  • The video is part of an experiment researching the effects of latency in perception on a robot’s ability to navigate unfamiliar environments.
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Drones have been capable of avoiding stationary obstacles for years, but researchers at the University of Zurich are working to make them even better at dodging moving objects.

As part of an experiment, the researchers recently published a video that shows an autonomous drone ducking and dodging a soccer ball being thrown at it in multiple scenarios. 

The experiment was part of a project by Davide Scaramuzza’s Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich, which recently published a paper that studies the effects that latency in perception can have on how quickly robots are able to navigate through an unfamiliar environment.

To validate their analysis, the researchers equipped a drone with event cameras that would enable it to detect and dodge objects thrown in its path, as outlined in their whitepaper. The project was first reported by IEEE Spectrum, the online magazine for IEEE, a professional organization focused on engineering and applied sciences.

In the video, the drone can be seen dodging a soccer ball thrown from various angles. In one shot, it subtly tilts to the side to avoid the ball in real time, while another experiment later in the video shows it zipping upward so that the ball can pass underneath it. The types of cameras used in the experiment, known as event cameras, are special types of sensors that are very sensitive to motion and can respond to changes in a scene within microseconds, as IEEE Spectrum reports.

With drones now being used for everything from agriculture to package delivery, the ability to detect and avoid moving obstacles in real time is sure to be crucial. Check out the video below.  


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from SAI