You know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?” Well, it also counts for drones. At least, that is the takeaway message from a recent paper titled “Learning to Fly by Crashing,” published by roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University. They subjected hapless drones to 11,500 collisions in 20 different indoor environments, spread over 40 hours of flying time, to prove it.
They did it for a good reason, too — and it is not because they have a whole lot of old quadcopters to get rid of before the start of the next academic year.
“We are interested in the problem of drone navigation: How does a UAV learn to avoid obstacles and learn to navigate,” Abhinav Gupta, an assistant professor in CMU’s Robotics Institute, told Digital Trends. “Unlike most other problems where data is the answer to many hard questions, what makes this problem hard is [a] scarcity of relevant data. We can use human experts and ask them to fly drones, but such data is small in size and biased towards success since the number of crashes is very low.”