Self-organization and interaction: the future of drone swarms on stage

CollMot Robotics is proud to be part of the great scientific breakthrough presented by Science Robotics in a research article and on its 2018 July cover: how to create large swarms of autonomous drones that fly together optimally in confined outdoor spaces? Three of the six authors are co-founders of CollMot Robotics in their research cap, while the company itself provided some of its infrastructure and technology to make the collective flight of the thirty drones as safe and spectacular as possible.

The article presents a flocking algorithm that has been applied to large swarms of drones optimally to perform synchronized collective motion at high speeds without collision, while also avoiding obstacles. We derived a general distributed swarm control framework with many parameters. We focus on model instances instead of models, that is, (evolutionary) optimization is part of the solution. The key concept in the model is the optimal combination of natural flocking algorithms with distributed motion planning.

Drone shows are getting more and more popular worldwide, but the majority of them are just multiples of simple drones programmed individually to follow a predefined route. The larger these systems get, the more vulnerable they are to individual failures - imagine how a drone with low battery gets out of a large flock without communicating with its mates around: it is actually a high-probability crash scenario with unknown consequences to the audience below.

Our solution with collective intelligence - as interpreted by WIRED in a follow-up article - is the next level of multi-drone systems with a lot more possibilities, increased safety, reliability and automation. CollMot Robotics has already incorporated the autonomous swarming technology into their drone shows to enhance the safety and simplify the logistics of the swarming missions, and to create interactivity between humans and machines through adaptive motion and light.

Watch the supplementary video illustrating the article below – and stay tuned for collective intelligence on stage!

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