The orientation method of bats was copied by researchers at the University of Toronto. It was possible to install an ultrasound-based system on the tiny drone, which helps with orientation even without cameras.
In many cases, land and air remotely controlled vehicles are limited by the fact that safe movements require the use of heavy, complex or expensive camera systems in relation to their size. Researchers at the University of Toronto therefore turned to bats’ sense organs, perfected over millions of years, which work by emitting ultrasound and detecting and processing sound waves reflected from surrounding surfaces.
The tiny aircraft does the same thing as bats: it emits short “screams” with its speakers, and then evaluates the reflections detected by small but sensitive microphones on its on-board computer, and thus determines its exact spatial position in relation to the walls of the room and other objects that reflect sound waves.
According to the researchers, the main strength of their solution is that they managed to build a working solution from cheaper and smaller elements than ever before. It is true, as they emphasized, that the method is not yet accurate enough.
However, the long-term plans include not only increasing the accuracy, but also the replacement of active speakers – according to the plans, it would be sufficient to only detect and properly process the reflections of the drone’s own noises, such as the sound of the propellers.