The Kinect Can Fly!

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).http://hybrid.eecs.berkeley.edu/

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.

[1] http://www.asctec.de
[2] http://www.microsoft.com
[3] http://www.ros.org/wiki/kinect
[4] http://openkinect.org
[5] http://www.ros.org/wiki/pcl
[6] http://www.vicon.com

6 Responses to “The Kinect Can Fly!”

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  4. Jen says:

    I love the fact that no protections being passed when using the Kinect with Open Source drivers. Without that I’m sure Microsoft would crush something thats truly amazing with the Kineect.

    Its not everyday that a mainstream product becomes popular with a subculture like the Kinect is. I really think though that the most popular aspect about the Kinect will be the commercial applications though. As seen through the Roomba team and its new robot powered by two Kinects.

    Onward and upwards and I hope the OpenKinect community keeps driving this forward!

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