Interactive Media Systems, TU Vienna

SmartCopter - Enabling Autonomous Flight in Indoor Environments with a Smartphone as On-Board Processing Unit

By Annette Mossel, Michael Leichtfried, Christoph Kaltenriener, and Hannes Kaufmann


We present a low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for autonomous flight and navigation in GPS-denied environments using an off-the-shelf smartphone as its core on-board processing unit. Thereby, our approach is independent from additional ground hardware and the UAV core unit can be easily replaced with more powerful hardware that simplifies setup updates as well as maintenance. The UAV is able to map, locate and navigate in an unknown indoor environment fusing vision based tracking with inertial and attitude measurements. We choose an algorithmic approach for mapping and localization that does not require GPS coverage of the target area, therefore autonomous indoor navigation is made possible. We demonstrate the UAVs capabilities of mapping, localization and navigation in an unknown 2D marker environment. Our promising results enable future research on 3D self-localization and dense mapping using mobile hardware as the only on-board processing unit. Our proposed autonomous flight processing pipeline robustly tracks and maps planar markers that need to be distributed throughout the tracking volume. We provide a low-cost off-the-shelf flight platform that only requires a commercially available mobile device as core processing unit for autonomous flight in GPS denied areas.


A. Mossel, M. Leichtfried, C. Kaltenriener, H. Kaufmann: "SmartCopter - Enabling Autonomous Flight in Indoor Environments with a Smartphone as On-Board Processing Unit"; International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications (invited), 10 (2014), 1; 92 - 114.


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