Flying robots that are not afraid of falls

    One of the reasons Erlang is so effective at building highly reliable large telecommunication systems is the “let it crash” principle. Errors and crashes are inevitable, and instead of preventing them, it is better to ensure that some parts of the system fall without affecting others, and easily restart. Due to such tolerance to errors of individual processes, high reliability of the system as a whole is achieved.

    A similar approach was usedscientists from the laboratory of intelligent systems of the Lausanne Federal Polytechnic School when they created a prototype of a flying robot for working in difficult and dangerous conditions. Instead of blocking the complex collision avoidance navigation system, they simply protected the load-bearing rotors with a carbon fiber frame and added a mechanism that allows the crashed and overturned robot to take off without any help.



    The source of inspiration for scientists was insects that, without any harm to themselves, stumble upon obstacles, fall and take off again. Robots arranged by a similar principle will be indispensable in conditions where reliable navigation and trouble-free piloting are practically impossible - when examining rubble, cramped and dark caves or mines. Robots built according to this scheme can be relatively “dumb” and “blind-eyed”, and at the same time be more effective than their more intelligent counterparts, especially from an economic point of view, because the carbon-fiber frame is much cheaper than a complex system of sensors and navigation.


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