The International Micro Aerial Vehicle Conference/Competition took place back in September, and unfortunately, we couldn't make it because we weren't sure how to pronounce the name of the place in which it was being held: 't Harde, in the Netherlands.
While IMAV had plenty of papers and talks and stuff, the most exciting bits were the indoor and outdoor MAV competitions. Inside, little autonomous flying robots had to identify and collect objects from within a structure, while outside, teams of MAVs had to cooperate to locate and observe groups of people, drop objects in specific locations, and even pop balloons. For both competitions, points were awarded for completing more difficult and complicated tasks and for increased autonomy.
The winner of the outdoor competition was DLR; they've got their own video which you can check out here.
One of the robots in that video in particular caught my eye:
This is called MAVion, and it's a fixed-wing tilt body aircraft thing from the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in France. Those big wheels aren't just for take-off and landing; MAVion uses them in concert with its rotors to drive up walls and along ceilings, which is nice since you can use walls to your advantage in confined spaces instead of treating them as obstacles.
For more info on all of the participating teams, you can page through this PDF which has specs, pics, and descriptions for most of the bots involved.
[ IMAV 2011 ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.