Like with many technologies, drones and quadcopters are getting cheaper and cheaper as they get smarter and more capable. And as Dr. Vijay Kumar and a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently demonstrated, the average consumer smartphone is now more than powerful enough to serve as an autonomous drone’s brains.
The quadcopter seen taking off and hovering here is carrying and connected to a Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Android smartphone running a custom app the team developed. And all of the drone’s autonomous navigation, vision-based collision avoidance, and flight stabilization is being handled by the phone, its built-in camera, and the app.
The drone itself is mostly just electric motors, wiring, and batteries, which means it can be built, and sold to consumers, at a much lower price point. The one obvious catch, though, is that you’re entrusting your expensive smartphone to an autonomous flying quadcopter which could very well have a less-than-pleasant landing at some point. But that’s nothing a little bubble wrap can’t protect against, right? [IEEE Spectrum]