Kinect makes UAV even more autonomous

A group of MIT students have used a Microsoft Kinect sensor-package to enable a UAV to map and fly circuits around a room:

Students have developed a real-time visual odometry system that can use a Kinect to provide fast and accurate estimates of a vehicle's 3D trajectory. This system is based on recent advances in visual odometry research, and combines a number of ideas from the state-of-the-art algorithms. It aligns successive camera frames by matching features across images, and uses the Kinect-derived depth estimates to determine the camera's motion.
MIT SLAM quad using Kinect (Thanks, Mark!)



  1. Cool– so the Terminator will be able to see in full color, and not that monochrome red?

  2. There seems to be some need to work on speed, but that is pretty cool. one day I will meet R2D2

  3. yay, this way the drones will be able to fly into the kindergartens as well to shoot the pakistani kids ehhh uhmmmmm, terrorists i meant of course….

  4. One step closer to never having to measure a room again.

    One step closer to the Hunter-Seekers from Dune.

  5. Unmanned
    Aerial (or Autonomous depending on the potential application)

    or commonly referred to by the “media” as drones.

  6. The words the narrator uses in this video are probably more complicated than the code they used to write the software.

  7. This can be useful in so many ways. So. Many. Ways.

    From new amazingly detailed levels in FPS games, to google 3d street view, to VR versions of factories that virtual firefighters could guide real firefighters through.

    Or even a decent idea of what’s going on inside of a failing nuclear plant.

  8. Microsoft, failing at building a decent phone for over a decade and yet they release a toy that nearly got canned that changes the world.

  9. Being in Japan, I think I’ve got earthquakes on the brain. My first thought was that is really cool, but it not going to navigate very well when a big earthquake hits and the ceiling falls in along that huge crack in the ceiling.

  10. @Not a Doktor – I don’t know that the reason the Kinect was used is a superior technology to what’s out there. I think it’s far more likely that the Kinect is super cheap and readily available.

    This would cut down costs dramatically, if the wars in africa and the middle east were conducted by 14 yr olds controlling UAVs remotely via xbox’s.

  11. This is kind of old. It’s previously been put on a flying robot I think as far back as 2002 using a COTS laser scanner. The Kinect just does it for much cheaper. Also, the Kinect’s range is limited compared to the laser.

  12. Color me impressed.

    For an early example of this sort of mapping, I’m amazed at how complete that 3d map of the room was at the end of the video.

    I just realized something – THIS is the next google earth.

    Think about it. Google is already driving cars around taking 360 degree images as they cruise the area – and they’ve even started going inside art museums etc and taking pics there as well. It’s not a big stretch to imagine them rigging up some sort of system like this kinect (of course, a more advanced and more capable version) that can create a high definition 3D representation of it’s surroundings on the fly.

    There’s my prediction for 2015-2017. Fully 3D maps to take a walk through.

  13. I know people like to dog Microsoft, but could you imagine Sony letting their product be used this way?

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