One of the topics in which SPECTORS is active is drone positioning, with staff involved in developing and testing optical positioning systems that may be effectively implemented on drones.
To give a general idea to whom is not familiar with the topic, positioning systems are needed on drones in order to be able to determine the spatial position and the orientation, so basically to know where the drone is at any moment.
There are different ways to realize positioning systems, as example:
- spatial scans with beacons (optical): the sensor (e.g. a camera) scans for a previously defined unique object, the beacon. Depending from how the beacon is seen, the system understands the angle and the distance between sensor and beacon and if multiple beacons are used, the position of the drone is geometrically extrapolated.
- inertial sensing based on gyroscope and accelerator: the accelerometers are used to measure the rotation and linear movement of the object they are mounted on, while the gyroscope is giving an absolute angular reference.
For what concerns drones navigation both on the field and within structures, one of the most important feature that the positioning system should have is the precision and accuracy for both performance and security reasons. In-door presents one more problem: often the GPS signal is not strong enough and therefore a navigation system independent from GPS is required. A promising possibility is, as already introduced, optical camera installed on the drone with reference beacons positioned in the space. At the moment a customized optical system is being analyzed and evaluated in its performance for future improvement and possible prototype.