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MIT develops guide-drone to ease campus confusion

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 - 02:14

Nov. 13 - Researchers at MIT's Senseable City Lab are developing a drone designed to act as a flying robotic guide for visitors and students in need of directions. Ben Gruber reports.

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In this highly produced conceptual video, researcher Matthew Claudel is lost on MIT's campus. So he calls for help on his phone… that help comes in the form of a flying robot. It's called 'Skycall' a navigation system that combines mobile technology with drones. Yaniv Turgeman, a researcher at MIT's Senseable City Lab, believes warfare has given drones a bad reputation, so he and his colleagues wanted to design one that's not only helpful, but courteous as well.. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YANIV TURGEMAN, DESIGNER, SENSEABLE CITY LAB, MIT, SAYING: "Our flying robot is quite well mannered. Even if you stop, he is not going to get mad at you but he will recognize that you are a certain distance away from him and be able to understand that he needs to wait." The drone keeps tabs on the Matthew's location by connecting to his smartphone via Bluetooth. And it uses a combination of GPS and Wifi location signals to orientate itself and map a route. Turgeman says the biggest challenge was giving the drone a sense if its surroundings. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YANIV TURGEMAN, DESIGNER, SENSEABLE CITY LAB, MIT, SAYING: "You need to understand the immediate obstacles that come in so global positioning where am I in the general area and local perception, means if there is a person walking by, how do I avoid that person." To accomplish this the drone uses sonar to map its environment in real time. Turgeman says the next generation model will be equipped with LIDAR, a remote sensing laser technology, although he admits, it'll take more than that to get people used to the idea of drones in everyday life. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YANIV TURGEMAN, DESIGNER, SENSEABLE CITY LAB, MIT, SAYING: "We are going to find the right place of how human robot interaction might be, but it is coming, it's here. We have been looking at it in the movies for quite a long time and these next years will determine that so we are excited to explore it and see what it leads to." And thanks to his helpful drone, Matthew Claudel arrives right on time…

MIT develops guide-drone to ease campus confusion

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 - 02:14

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