MIT have created a flying quadrocopter equipped with a Microsoft Kinect device which is capable of mapping in 3D its surrounding environment, creating a real-time visual odometry system.
The quadrocopter uses the Kinect device to help it calculate accurate estimates of its 3D trajectory. By matching features from successive camera frames throughout the images, together with the Kinect-derived depth estimates the system is able to determine the camera’s motion. Watch a video of the new Kinect Equipped Quadrocopter after the jump, with an explanation of how the system works.
The visual odometry runs in real-time, onboard the vehicle, and its estimates have low enough delay that we are successfully able to control the quadrotor using only the Kinect and onboard IMU, enabling fully autonomous 3D flight in unknown GPS-denied environments.
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