Just when we thought smartphone cameras were already well-equipped for stunning landscape shots and indulgent selfies, scientists have found a way for a camera to map its own surroundings in the form of a fully autonomous quadcopter.
Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology installed a regular smartphone camera into a quadcopter – so called because of its four rotors – that enables it to fly around in a given environment. This is done by tracking a map of squares with QR-like codes laid out on the ground, all without any human control. Costing less than a thousand euros to make, the quadcopter's smartphone camera picks up on visual inputs to the processor, while a custom app provides the code for navigation and control after it has generated a map of its surroundings.
The model is entirely reliant on visual data and is built specifically for small, indoor spaces. The team have further plans for the quadcopter to eventually be able to identify objects such as tables and chairs in a room and create a map by using a Kinect-style depth sensor.
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