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How Drones May Avoid Collisions By Sharing Knowledge

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Drones flying in densely built cities will need to be programmed to make quick decisions to avoid collisions.

The Stanford University Intelligent Systems Laboratory is just one team of more than 130 working with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to figure out how to manage drone traffic.

Credit: Laurie Ruben/DJI

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is working with more then 130 research teams to solve how to manage drone traffic.

The drone traffic management system, which will be under development for the next several years, will help drones communicate with each other and avoid potential collisions.

One of the teams is from the Stanford Intelligent Systems Laboratory, which is led by Mykel Kochenderfer. The Stanford team has developed a quick decision process the traffic management system can use to reroute drones and avoid collisions. The researchers ran more than 1 million simulations for conflict situations for anywhere between two and 10 drones. The drones were given varying levels of information about the other drones in the system and then were tested on their response time and how often they ran into conflict.

The Stanford researchers found drones could make the quickest decisions when they were paired with the closest other drone, and the two solely considered each other's behavior. Although decision time increased as more drones entered the simulation, the system was always able to make a decision on rerouting a drone within 50 milliseconds. The researchers found drones feeding their data into a central decision-making system came to the slowest decisions, but they were less likely to encounter conflict, making them safer.

From Technology Review
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