The Stanford Aircraft Teaches Itself to Fly

 - May 8, 2009
References: & gizmag
The Stanford Aircraft is only beginning to evolve helicopter ability. Helicopters are used in the most dangerous of situations. Many lives have been saved in times of forest fires or water rescue missions because of the ability to reach high risk locations.

Autonomous helicopters programmed to maneuver without a pilot in the cockpit have become more commonly used tools. One of the primary issues surrounding these helicopters is the difficulty behind programming their movement.

But what if they could teach themselves?

The Stanford Aircraft, developed by Professor Andrew Ng and multiple graduating students at (you guessed it) Stanford University, is a standard remote control helicopter equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers used to monitor the position, direction, orientation, velocity, acceleration, and spin of the helicopter in several dimensions.

A computer on the ground receives data and via radio at 20 times per second sends new flight directions to the helicopter based on a previous flight pattern flown by a expert.

The Stanford Aircraft's new technology has the potential to emerge in war-torn areas in search of land mines or to track the hotspots of wildfires in California in order to deliver quick and accurate information to fire services.