Advances in autonomous helicopters have been many over the years, but as far as we can tell, there’s essentially no limit to how awesome they can get. MIT’s recently developed an autonomous, robotic helicopter which is also able to navigate itself intelligently through a changing environment. The helicopter, which is equipped with a dual-camera array and a laser scanner, maps its terrain in real time, identifying changes along the way. An integrated autonomous exploration module allows the heli to interact with the changing, unknown environment it is mapping. The helicopter was shown off at the AUVSI 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition, completing five missions — a feat not before seen in the 19-year history of the show.
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