Archive for December 5th, 2010

The Kinect Can Fly!

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Or rather, it can be placed on robots that are capable of flight. Pretty sure this is a world first here- Quadrotor from UC Berkeley using a Kinect for autonomous navigation. How cool is that? I bet Microsoft never realized just how many people would be hacking these in short time. Given my own circle of friends, I know more people using them for robotics than playing videogames!

This work is part of the STARMAC Project in the Hybrid Systems Lab at UC Berkeley (EECS department).

Researcher: Patrick Bouffard
PI: Prof. Claire Tomlin

Our lab’s Ascending Technologies [1] Pelican quadrotor, flying autonomously and avoiding obstacles.

The attached Microsoft Kinect [2] delivers a point cloud to the onboard computer via the ROS [3] kinect driver, which uses the OpenKinect/Freenect [4] project’s driver for hardware access. A sample consensus algorithm [5] fits a planar model to the points on the floor, and this planar model is fed into the controller as the sensed altitude. All processing is done on the on-board 1.6 GHz Intel Atom based computer, running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

A VICON [6] motion capture system is used to provide the other necessary degrees of freedom (lateral and yaw) and acts as a safety backup to the Kinect altitude–in case of a dropout in the altitude reading from the Kinect data, the VICON based reading is used instead. In this video however, the safety backup was not needed.