KYOTO creates drone that can operate on autopilot

The drone receives location information from sensors set up around places with no GPS signals, which is converted into the same kind of signals used in GPS. This enables the drone to automatically identify its location.

KYOTO creates drone that can operate on autopilot
KYOTO creates drone that can operate on autopilot

KYOTO creates drone that can operate on autopilot

KYOTO, a business venture in western Japan has developed a drone that can be operated on autopilot in places with no GPS reception. The “seamless drone” was created by Earth Analyzer, a startup based in the city of Ayabe, Kyoto Prefecture.

The drone receives location information from sensors set up around places with no GPS signals, which is converted into the same kind of signals used in GPS. This enables the drone to automatically identify its location.

The first demonstration was unveiled on July 20 at a warehouse in Kyoto prefectural city of Nantan. As it was programmed to do, the drone flew to the entrance and hovered there for a while.

After a change was made in the system, the source of location information transmitted to drone was changed from GPS to a group of six sensors. The drone successfully completed the demonstration by finally landing on a point marked “H”.

There had previously been no other option but for people to operate drones manually inside buildings and other places where GPS signals could not reach.

Although there is also a method to operate drones by equipping them with cameras and lasers and have them fly while analyzing images, this method apparently requires slowing down their speed and there are also limitations on the locations they can be flown.

The new drone system was developed in a joint effort by Earth Analyzer, Tokushima University, and i System Research Corp., a tech firm based in Kyoto’s Nakagyo Ward. The GPS used include those of the United States, the Galileo systems of the EU, and Russia’s GLONASS. The seamless drone also uses satellite signals apart from GPS, and the developers are enhancing its precision.

The drone has already entered stages of practical usage and is apparently scheduled to fly through a water supply tunnel in September after passing through a sluiceway in the Yura River in the city of Fukuchiyama in northern Kyoto Prefecture.

The Mainichi quoted Hisanori Araki, president of Earth Analyzer as saying that Japan’s infrastructure has been showing signs of deterioration, and there is a high potential demand for inspections by drones. Although manual operation requires time for training skilled pilots, the seamless drone can be flown by anyone even if one is not a skilled expert.