When future tech meets future tech, things can get interesting. Researchers at MIT have created a virtual-reality training environment for real-life, physical drones.
The new training system, named “Flight Goggles,” trains drones to navigate at high speeds while avoiding obstacles and crashes. In reality, the drones are actually flying in an empty room, but they are seeing and responding to a pre-designed, virtual world.
Professor Sertain Karaman, an MIT professor and one of the program’s developers, believes this could have a huge effect on the development of drone technology. “If anything, the system can make autonomous vehicles more responsive, faster, and more efficient,” says Karaman. In addition, it provides a testing ground where drones can be trained in different environments and conditions.
Karaman stated that his initial motivation for developing the virtual training system actually stemmed from drone racing. Currently, all racing drones are piloted by humans, but Karaman intends to change that. “In the next two or three years, we want to enter a drone racing competition with an autonomous drone, and beat the best human player,” he says.
The virtual training system will be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation next week.
Check out the video below to see what some of the virtual environments look like: