Voice of America: Drones on a leash

UC designs semi-autonomous drone that can be operated on a tether

Voice of America in Russia highlighted the University of Cincinnati's innovations with tethered drones.

UC College of Engineering and Applied Science professor Manish Kumar and his doctoral student Shraddha Barawkar designed a semi-autonomous navigation system that enables drones to remain stable in the sky in turbulent winds or when pulled by the tether attached to the ground.

The goal is to create an easy-to-operate drone for all the myriad uses where an eye in the sky would be beneficial.

UC’s custom navigation system uses artificial intelligence based on fuzzy logic, a type of computer decision making that relies on degrees of truth rather than a binary true-false dichotomy. This makes it a more robust system because no precise inputs are required.

Kumar demonstrated the system in his lab using a four-rotor drone called a quadcopter attached to a wooden rod. When Kumar pushed or pulled the rod, the drone automatically tilted in the same direction, maintaining its stability and position in the air.

“The way we fly kites, we can fly drones,” Barawkar said.

Watch the Voice of America story.

UC professor Manish Kumar and his doctoral student have come up with a semi-autonomous navigation system that keeps tethered drones stable in the air even when being pulled around the sky. Tethered drones are safer than free-flying ones and can fly with fewer federal restrictions. They also offer a longer flight time and require no training or certification.

UC College of Engineering and Applied Science professor Manish Kumar talks in his flight lab. Photo/Ravenna Rutledge/UC Creative + Brand

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