KEF Robotics is developing an AI-enabled obstacle detector for US Army tethered drones. - www.sorrentosweets.com

AI-Enabled Obstacle Detector for US Army Tethered Drones Being Developed by KEF Robotics

KEF Robotics has received funding from the US Department of Defense to develop an AI-enabled obstacle detection system for US Army tethered drones.  

The company announced that it is looking into using infrared and electro-optical (EO) camera-based systems to detect operational hazards by drones mounted on moving vehicles, such as power lines and tree limbs.  

The unmanned system is supposed to use cutting-edge cameras and machine learning algorithms to map its surroundings in a "very complex" way as it travels through an area. 

The Pittsburgh-based software company revealed that it is presently utilizing Duality AI's Falcon simulator to create scenarios and train tethered drones to avoid obstacles when utilizing the new solution.  

After it is created and put into place, the obstacle detection system should enable tethered drones to safely complete missions both during the day and at night. 

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or tethered drones, are connected to mobile military vehicles via cables carrying power and data. By providing information and pictures from an aerial perspective, they help warfighters become more aware of their surroundings.  

Due to their attachment to vehicles, these drones are perpetually powered by the earth, allowing them to hover above the surface for extended periods of time and continuously monitor ground assets. 

But because tethered drones fly lower than other unmanned aerial vehicles, they are more vulnerable to low-hanging objects like traffic lights. They can identify potentially dangerous obstacles from a safe distance by integrating an advanced obstacle detection system, which would raise their mission success rate. 

KEF Robotics says the solution will only use high-resolution cameras instead of more sophisticated data-recording technologies like LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) in order to meet the US Army's budgetary requirements. The system doesn't emit any electromagnetic frequencies or radio waves, making it a simple, low-cost passive solution. 

Stay away from the outdoors with that $100,000 infrared camera. Try using the $7,000 infrared camera, the $600 EO camera, and the computer you can buy at your local hardware or computer store, Kitchell suggested. 

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