A professor at MIT developed an equation to determine the fastest theoretical air-speed for obstacle avoidance.

From Science Blog:  "Emilio Frazzoli, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, says knowing how fast to fly can help engineers program unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly at high speeds through cluttered environments such as forests and urban canyons.

Most UAVs today fly at relatively slow speeds, particularly if navigating around obstacles. That’s mainly by design: Engineers program a drone to fly just fast enough to be able to stop within the field of view of its sensors.

Frazzoli and PhD student Sertac Karaman developed mathematical models of various forest densities, calculating the maximum speed possible in each obstacle-filled environment.

The team’s work establishes a theoretical speed limit for any given obstacle-filled environment. For UAVs, this means that no matter how good robots get at sensing and reacting to their environments, there will always be a maximum speed they will need to observe to ensure survival."

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Comment by Adam Rivera on January 19, 2012 at 10:16pm

Love the photo. I sent a trainer into my neighbors house when I was a kid... looked exactly like that.

Comment by Anish on January 20, 2012 at 3:09am

would be interesting to see it they publish, and may be we could use some of it in ardupilot/plane (especially to avoid ground collision :) )

Comment by Alfred Riopel on January 20, 2012 at 6:45am

I like that picture. :) Is that an actual crash penetration?

Comment by Wayne Dancer on January 20, 2012 at 10:07am

I think looking at bird speeds in different environments will give you a pretty good estimation.  As for the photo, I really hope the siding on my house isn't that weak :O  Was it just chicken wire and stucco with no backing or what?

Edit:  Oh, and I forgot crazy crop dusters!

Comment by Ellison Chan on January 20, 2012 at 4:37pm

Love the picture, but I can predict that the research will go nowhere. (pun intended)

Robots will be able to fly as fast as their sensors, and airframe will allow for obstacle avoidance.  Better sensors, and more responsive airframes, result in faster speed limits.

Comment by Shannon Morrisey on January 20, 2012 at 4:52pm

i believe this is an 'equation' to calculate the max velocity given thrust, aerodynamics, atmosphere and obstacle density, processing latency, etc.

there will always be a faster plane

i just read an AW&ST article about a Colorado-based team developing a small supersonic UAV.  It's called  Gojett (graduate organization jet engine technology team)

 [would post link to story; subscriber only access until next week]

Comment by Steven Thompson on January 21, 2012 at 1:38am

Well there's your problem!!!

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