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The onboard sensing and computing power of a smartphone can be used to control autonomous aerial vehicles
Micro aerial vehicles capable of autonomous navigation are often expensive and intimidating for the inexperienced user. Much of the cost associated with these vehicles is due to the dedicated sensing and control systems that are required for navigation. Modern smartphones contain similar sensors and a powerful, efficient processor, but until now no one has been able to perform all of the sensing and control for an aerial vehicle with just a phone.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed the first aerial vehicle with all sensing, computation, and control performed on a consumer smartphone. The phone’s existing cameras, inertial measurement unit, and processor are used to determine position and send commands to the aerial vehicle. No additional sensors are required, the phone simply plugs into the vehicle. This technology offers the opportunity to make unmanned aerial systems much more accessible to the consumer market. This system replaces much of the professional grade hardware with the user’s own smartphone, which could lead the way to much cheaper and more accessible autonomous aerial vehicles.