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Autonomous MIT Plane Turns a Parking Garage Into Its Own Personal Slalom Course

When it comes to flying around indoors, helicopters and their ilk get all the attention. That's generally because your typical plane is best suited for flying forward fast, not "painstakingly avoiding obstacles." This drone from MIT is an exception to that rule.

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Using a pretty standard Intel Atom processor, some on-board sensors, and some sophisticated calculations, this plane designed by MIT's Robust Robotics Group is able to dodge obstacles with ease, even at high speeds. It'd be impressive enough to watch this sucker cruise through a closed course, but to really prove its mettle, they brought it to a parking garage, where it completed a seven minute flight at 22 miles per hour, covering roughly three miles in distance, and coming within inches of collision. Take that, rotors! [MIT]

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DISCUSSION

There is a purpose for every application and MIT's business is in making them meet. However I'm sure a helicopter would be more suited to do anything that needs to be done flying inside because it is altogether more manoeuvrable than a fixed wing aircraft, like stopping in midair and reversing out of dead end situations.

If you need to fly crosscountry and need to pass through some buildings on the way, this might be the way to go.

But, all the same, it's awesome to see a plane flying like this in a garage.