Meet the AirBurr, an autonomous flying robot specifically designed for missions in difficult, confined environments under total darkness. Airburr is inspired b the simple navigation strategy that insects use to follow - It follows a path and if it collides, it has an excellent ability to recover.
In this video the AirBurr navigates a corridor and a narrow doorway towards a light source using the signals from 4 simple photodiodes. This strategy is particularly adapted to following faint signals in unstructured, cluttered environments, such as gas leaks in collapsed industrial plants. The AirBurr is then programmed to explore a small room using a random direction algorithm similar to the one used by most robotic vacuum cleaners. This exploration strategy is useful in situations where other sensors cannot be used. It is demonstrated through a flight in a completely dark room where vision-based navigation isn't possible, and can also be used in smoke-filled environments where laser scanners have trouble functioning correctly.