A team of engineers from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has developed the smallest racing drone in the world that can compete in fully automatic mode. They made a breakthrough in the industry - to minimize weight and size, almost all sensors and cameras were removed from the device, so it is oriented in space due to "digital intuition". The prototype has already proven itself worthy in racing with professional drones.
High speed is not only a chance to win a prize, which reaches a million dollars in prestigious drone racing competitions, but also an opportunity to create a car with great commercial potential. The drone delivery industry is entering the stage of competition for speed and accuracy in order execution. To do this, multicopters must have ideal algorithms for orientation in space, combined with maximum lifting weight. These factors formed the basis of the project of the team of Ph.D. Guido de Krun.
Dutch engineers removed almost all the sensors from the drone and left only one, the simplest camera. We also got rid of other energy-intensive equipment - and with it from heavy batteries. So they managed to bring the dimensions of the drone up to 10 cm in diameter with a weight of only 72 grams, while maintaining the standard speed for racing UAVs of 2 m / s. But I had to completely change the orientation model in space - instead of recognizing objects and choosing a path to fly around obstacles, this drone flies along a pre-compiled route. He needs a camera to determine control points and measure the degree of deviation from the course.
At the TU Delft Cyberzoo competition, the prototype showed very good results, not inferior to professional models in maneuverability, although they surpassed it in speed. Now the team intends to start modernizing algorithms by adding computer vision to the system. The faster and more accurately the camera can identify obstacles, the more optimal the route will be. In the case of a tiny UAV, this means the ability to master new maneuvers, because it can fly through the racing ring in different ways, unlike large-sized drones.