New test facility for drones and self-driving vehicles

A new test facility is the first step in a strategy designed to make DTU a leader in research and education relating to autonomous systems.

DTU opened a new autonomous systems facility—to the sound of buzzing drones. This will enhance DTU’s research and education capabilities for collaborative autonomous systems and self-propelled vehicles.

Driverless cars and boats, drones carrying out environmental monitoring, slaughter robots, tele-robots, and precision farming are either already a reality or not far off it. DTU intends to be the best in Europe in this field, and will achieve this objective by crossing traditional academic boundaries and developing general models with applications for many different areas.

“We’re delighted to have a test facility for this field now. The test facility will help us to set the agenda for opportunities in the field of autonomous systems. Nothing is quite as effective as show it—don’t tell it. In the long term, this temporary facility will also help us to learn more about what needs to be done to establish a more permanent test facility,” said Dean of Research Katrine Krogh Andersen, before (under the supervision of a drone) cutting the ribbon to inaugurate the facility.

And naturally, the red ribbon was being held by a robotic arm on a self-driving vehicle.

Drone demonstration
Several demonstrations of autonomous devices and systems took place during the inauguration. To a roar of applause, Associate Professor Ole Ravn of DTU Electrical Engineering demonstrated an autonomous drone landing on a self-driving vehicle. PhD student Sheng Wang from DTU Environment had brought a drone along and gave a practical demonstration of how drones can carry out thermal and spectral monitoring for environmental monitoring purposes.

Researcher Jakob Jakobsen from DTU Space had brought his hybrid drone in honour of the occasion. Initially, it resembles a helicopter, but it can morph into a fixed-wing aircraft when it reaches higher altitudes. This gives the drone greater range, so it can be used for remote sensing and mapping tasks, for example. DTU Space conducts research into accurate positioning and altitude determination, making this hybrid drone ideal for various tests.

“The establishment of the test facility harmonizes really well with the fact that we’ve just started to create a distinct organization for research and education in this very promising field,” according to Head of Department Kristian Stubkjær, DTU Electrical Engineering.

30. November 2017

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