The latest news on the development of the INGENIOUS Micro Indoor droNe (MINs) by SINTEF
The MINs are one of the different autonomous aerial vehicles that are being developed within the INGENIOUS project. The main goal of the MINs, which are being developed by our partners in SINTEF, is to support the localization of FR moving in indoor dangerous and GNSS-denied environments.
The idea is to use the MINs to build an indoor mesh-network such that they could be used as beacons to obtain the position of FR carrying a specific device (tag). In simpler words, the MINs have to aid the indoor localization of FR operating in semi-collapsed and dangerous, GNSS-denied building and have to self-deploy by navigating autonomously in the environment (Figure 1).
As platform for the MINs, we have chosen to use the Crazyflie 2.1 drones from Bitcraze.
The Crazyflie 2.1 is a great platform for the INGENIOUS purpose since it is completely open source, and it comes with a series of off-the-shelf sensors that fit the needs of the INGENIOUS project. In particular, there is an ultra-wide band (UWM) module available which can be used for the localisation of the FR in the mesh network created by the MINs, and two modules characterized by laser sensors that can detect obstacles in proximity of the micro drone and that can be used for navigation and obstacle avoidance purposes.
The first year of the project has been focused on the development of the SW to improve peer-to-peer communication of the drones, to tweak some functionalities of the UWB module of the Crazyflie, to test the initial localisation performance of the UWB modules in ideal conditions, that is, positioning the MINs in known positions in the environment and using them as reference points for calculating the position of a moving person (an FR).
In these months our partners from SINTEF are focusing their efforts on the development of high-level exploration strategies for the self-deployment of the MINs and in parallel, they are also testing the localisation performances of the MINs in less ideal conditions, that is, not positioning the MINs but let them fly to a given position and then using them as reference points to calculate the position of a moving person (an FR). Of course, in the preliminary tests, not all goes well…
However, at the moment partners from SINTEF are trying to go back on the right track and they are becoming more skilled about flying.
In the meantime, since the INGENIOUS project requires to integrate information from different tools to take full advantage of the technological potentials of each component of the toolkit, SINTEF is also working with other partners towards component integrations and, in particular, how to use the information about the environment (e.g., the map) obtained by the other components (e.g., the MAX drone).
In the coming weeks, SINTEF will arrange new joint remote tests with the other partners to work on components integration and define the next steps of the development.