A free ESA app released today turns a popular iPhone-controlled ‘home drone’ into a spacecraft. The augmented reality game lets owners of Parrot AR.Drone quadcopters attempt dockings with a simulated International Space Station while flying their drones for real – in the process helping to improve robotic rendezvous methods.
This new AstroDrone app is part of a scientific crowdsourcing project by ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, gathering data to teach robots to navigate their environments.
“People intuitively assess their position and motion in relation to their surroundings in various ways, based on what they see before them,” explained team research fellow Guido de Croon.
“This new app lets us crowdsource examples of this process in practice, as a first step to reproducing it with artificial intelligence. AstroDrone Access the video
“For ESA, the result could be much more autonomous spacecraft that can reliably manoeuvre, dock or land themselves.” (via Smartphone app turns home drone into spacecraft / Technology / Our Activities / ESA)