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When Accidents Happen, Drones Weigh Their Options

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An aerial drone snaps photos of a London street at night.

Engineers build a lot of redundancy into every system, because failure is not an option when it comes to ensuring safety, said Melkior Ornik, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Credit: Storyblocks

Gauging unmanned aerial vehicles' ability to recover from malfunctions and complete missions safely is central to research by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) .

The “quantitative resilience” of a control system attempts to verify such systems' capabilities following an adverse event, according to UIUC's Melkior Ornik.

He said that task requires the drone to solve four nested, possibly nonlinear, optimization challenges, and reduces the computation of quantitative resilience to a single linear optimization problem through control theory and two novel geometric results.

Ornik added, “This ability to work through when equipment malfunctions has real-life implications.”

From University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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