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June 01, 2005

Linux Powers Airborne Bots


'British researchers are turning to Linux and embedded processors to build a fleet of tiny, robotic helicopters capable of swarming like angry bees and evaluating their surroundings with a single hive mind.

The University of Essex's UltraSwarm project is an experiment in swarm intelligence and wireless cluster computing that might one day spawn military surveillance applications. In one scenario, a flock of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, with video cameras could take in a hostile landscape from a variety of angles and process the image locally, in the sky.

For their proof of concept, the researchers are using lightweight $69 Proxflyer Bladerunner toy helicopters equipped with gumstix processors -- tiny self-contained computers weighing 8 grams (0.28 ounces), but packing enough power to run the Linux 2.6 kernel and communicate over a built-in Bluetooth module.

The coaxial Bladerunner weighs only 50 grams (1.8 ounces) and is held aloft by two rotors, one atop the other, spinning in opposite directions to achieve a stable, insect-like flight. It's sold as a remote-control toy, but after adding the gumstix and a downward-facing video camera, the Essex University researchers have already turned one of the choppers into what they describe as the world's smallest flying web server....'

Read more at Wired News: Linux Powers Airborne Bots:

Posted by Darren at June 1, 2005 11:21 PM | More from UAV News |