Cornell researchers have created an autonomous flying robot that is as smart as a bird when it comes to maneuvering around obstacles.
Able to guide itself through forests, tunnels or damaged buildings, the machine could have tremendous value in search-and-rescue operations. Small flying machines are already common, and GPS technology provides guidance. Now, Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science, and his team are tackling the hard part: how to keep the vehicle from slamming into walls and tree branches. Human controllers can't always react swiftly enough, and radio signals may not reach everywhere the robot goes.