Advanced Software in Aerial Drones Enable Navigation in Dangerous Places


A drone. / Photo by: Maxpixel


Exyn technologies, a company from the GRASP Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, developed a new set of aerial drones equipped with cutting-edge technology applicable to a variety of industries including construction and warehouse management.

The software that powers the aerial robots is called exynAI. It provides the full automation of the drones for mission planning and task execution. Moreover, the system allows the drones to work independently or as a team, depending on the desire of the user. The advanced software also enables the user to issue high-level flight tasks and access multiple services such as 3D mapping, tracking, and safe navigation.

Other technologies installed in the Exyn aerial drones include the following:

- Sliding Scale: The AI that runs the software permits a broad spectrum of applications while its autonomous capability can be adjusted according to the need of the user.

- Sense-and-avoid: The feature helps the drones to avoid collisions in indoor and outdoor environments.

- Multi-Sensor Data Fusion: The flying robots have been equipped with multiple sensing modalities such as several cameras, LIDAR, and RADAR. These modalities aid their ability to perceive the environment and help them navigate in certain unfavorable conditions like in complete darkness.

- Real-time Awareness: The drones can adapt and navigate through environments that contain static or dynamic elements.

- All Intelligence Onboard: Each drone can work on their own without the need for constant communication. Once they have completed their assigned tasks, an update is sent to the data cloud service to inform the user.

- Modular System: exynAI can be customized to accommodate the requirements of specific situations.

- Multi-robot Intelligence: A part of the drone team can be assigned to a parallel task of another to reduce mission time, decrease workspace downtime, and lessen battery consumption.

- Infrastructureless: The drones do not need to obtain data about its target environment beforehand. The robots can learn and navigate through the new environment online.

“Our exynAI™ software enables our robots to answer each of these questions online and in real-time using only their onboard computation and sensing… We have developed an accelerated pipeline that allows the robot to exploit geometry present in the environment to estimate its relative change in position and orientation over time. In a similar fashion, our robot detects and tracks visual features using cameras,” said Dr. Jason Derenick, the technical lead at Exyn.