Micro Helicopter Could Be Used by Law Enforcement Agencies
Students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have created a micro-robotic helicopter that navigates and maneuvers on its own. Potential uses for the 2.2 lb. Rahfan ("Flyer") helicopter include special operations, observation and tracking by law enforcement agencies. The helicopter is outfitted with an Inertial Navigation System (INS) sensor and an MPEG 4 network camera for navigation purposes.
A pocket PC was incorporated to increase the helicopter’s processing ability and enabling it to receive flight instructions and transmit its location and images. In addition to sending signals to a control box mounted on the helicopter, the pocket PC also makes wireless communication with a ground station possible.
“The helicopter has progressed through a number of development stages and can sustain an air time of 30 to 40 minutes,” explains Ronen Keidar, lab engineer for intelligent systems in the Technion Faculty of Computer Science. “That is enough time for it to enter a building through the window, perform a mission and exit.”
Together with Mr. Keidar, the multi-disciplinary project is being led by Prof. Ehud Rivlin of the Faculty of Computer Science, Prof. Pini Gurfil of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, and hardware engineer Sergei Danilian.
The students supervised by Prof. Rivlin were responsible for information processing and computerized vision. According to Prof. Rivlin, “We plan to add sensors to the helicopter that give it the ability to detect obstacles and prevent collisions, maintain altitude and to orient itself using a three-dimensional map.”
With the helicopter’s only camera currently located on its underbelly, the researchers say their next step will be to add an additional camera, which will give the helicopter the ability to simultaneously photograph forward and backward. In effect, they say, this will provide a 360-degree picture on a horizontal plane.
The project is being financed by the Devorah Foundation and the Technion Autonomous Systems Program.