Scientists develop miniature drone helicopter

It contains a video camera that enables it to "inspect risk areas such as pipelines.

Mexico City: Mexican scientists have developed a miniature drone helicopter that is equipped with artificial vision and can follow a moving target, detect fires and support search and rescue operations, authorities said.
The prototype - measuring 50 cm in length by 50 cm in height and weighing less than 1 kg - was designed at Cinvestav`s International Mixed Unit, which is backed by Mexico`s National Science and Technology Council and the French government`s CNRS institute.

The small helicopter contains a video camera that enables it to "inspect risk areas such as electrical installations, pipelines or roads or examine crops," the Research and Advanced Studies Center, or Cinvestav, said Thursday.

Hugo Romero Trejo, a contributor to the project and a post-doctoral student at Cinvestav`s Automatic Control Department, said the vehicle, which can be airborne for 20 minutes and reach a height of 30 meters, is guided by "positioning sensors previously programmed with artificial vision algorhithms".

The helicopter`s altitude can be programmed, as can its "shape segmentation and recognition sensors", which allow it to track a target based on its description, he said.

The helicopter can even track a moving target, as well as take photographs of the target and send them in real time to a computer or cellular phone.

Unlike a miniature drone airplane, which can cost as much as $1.5 million, this small Mexican helicopter ranges between 20,000 and 25,000 pesos ($1,700-$2,140) in price and is capable of hovering over one spot.


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