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Custom Sensors Selected for UAV Project

Below are exerts from a press release from Aurora Flight Sciences (May 2008) in which the MaxSonar®sensors will be used.

Aurora Flight Sciences plans in 18 months to fly a micro-sized unmanned air vehicle that is guided by visual and sonar sensors inspired by flies and bats. A pair of MaxBotix acoustic sensors detects even smaller obstacles, such as wires, by localizing their location by sending acoustic pings from two, wingtip-mounted sensors. The challenge involves cramming several tiny cameras, two sonar antennas and on-board processing into a prototype package that weighs no more than 300g (10.6oz) and consumes less than 5W.

Above about 16.4ft (5m), the only things to detect and dodge are mostly large buildings. Below about 13-16ft, the UAV must fly amid an urban gauntlet of power lines, traffic poles, cables and other city obstacles.

Aurora began the project about two years ago with a phase 1 award from the US Air Force Research Laboratory. The company received a phase 2 contract in August, with a flight test planned in spring 2010.

The prototype system must eventually shrink to 90-150g and the power requirement should fall to 1.5 to 2W for a production system.