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Advanced drone algorithm guides drones through city streets like a car


Currently, drones use some of the same systems your car’s navigation system uses to find its way around a city’s streets. But this is all about to change thanks to the latest drone algorithm development.

Drone technology is changing the way we live across the world, from photography to fire prevention, there really isn’t a segment of the global economy that is not currently being impacted by the rise of drones.But have you ever wondered how the technological marvels navigate the world around them with such ease and grace?

Thanks to an advanced DroNet algorithm, drones are able to navigate around city streets much like an automobile would – all without a driver!

drone algorithm

This might be why drones are dangerous, but you’d be wrong in that assumption. Sure, nothing is perfect, but drone navigational technology is at the forefront of unmanned aerial systems.

Research conducted by a team from the University of Zurich and the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics in Switzerland created a way for drones to navigate open spaces autonomously using an algorithm, causing the drones to behave like cars in traffic.

The head of the University of Zurich’s Robotics and Perception Group Davide Scaramuzza told publication Digital Trends: “We have developed an algorithm that can safely drive a drone through the streets of a city and react promptly to unforeseen obstacles, such as other vehicles and pedestrians.”

The name for the algorithm, DroNet, is an abbreviation for Drone Network. DroNet uses a deep neural network in guiding the drone and its name references this underlying technology.

The algorithm enables the drone to differentiate between moving objects and those that are standing still. Using these indications the drone can independently navigate while avoiding unnecessary collisions.


In explaining the technology, Scaramuzza said: ““With this algorithm, we have taken a step forward toward integrating autonomous drones into our ‘everyday life…Instead of relying on sophisticated sensors, DroNet only requires a single camera — very much like that of every smartphone — on a drone.”

The difference between drones using DroNet and traditional drones is that traditional drones utilize a global positioning system (GPS) for navigation, a system that can become harried and start to fray at low altitudes. So long as your drone is above a city’s buildings, GPS works great, but the minute your drone dips into the city streets, GPS can become a bit of a hazard for consumers and pedestrians.

DroNet incorporates the behavior of bicycles and cars into its algorithm to power the drone’s behavior. To get this behavioral data, Scaramuzza and his team collected data from realtime bicycles and vehicles as they navigated city streets to inform the algorithm’s development.

drone algorithm

The DroNet algorithm could see use in a variety of consumer-facing and industrial fields, such as food delivery or emergency services. The algorithm will need to undergo further refinement before it can be deployed in a commercial setting but Scaramuzza and his team are confident they are on the right track. A recent missive detailing the project was outlined in the journal IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Legislative Bill 693 provides immunity from civil prosecution for emergency responders who damage an “unmanned aircraft,” or drone, in the performance of their duties so long as they reasonably believe the drone was interfering with the performance of their duties. The bill also makes it illegal to use a drone to peep or spy into residences in a way that would violate normal expectations of privacy. Law enforcement officers, too, are offered protections relating to the use of drones in some circumstances.

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