Swarms of microdrones can save lives by copying insect behavior

Emergency areas such as buildings on fire pose a great danger to people, which is why response services are increasingly using tiny drones to survey them.

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), Radbaud University in Nijmegen and the University of Liverpool have developed a special "bug behavior algorithm" for a large number of small drones operating simultaneously.

The fact is that large drones, equipped with more powerful motors and microprocessors, are capable of performing quite complex tasks in accordance with the program laid down in them. However, a swarm of microdrones, united by a common mission, can cover a given area much faster than one large drone.

The idea for a swarm of drones was once again suggested by nature, where insects jointly explore the environment, simply avoiding obstacles and orienting themselves on the terrain, and then return to their nests.

After leaving the base, each drone tries to fly in its own direction. Using built-in sensors, they can avoid obstacles and perform a follow-the-wall maneuver based on wall contours and interior furnishings. In addition, the drones track each other's location by recording the strength of the wireless signals transmitted by the chips on board each of them.

When the drones' battery level drops to 60%, they are returned back to base. Thanks to the control algorithm used, a flock of six Crazyflie 2.0 drones surveyed 80% of open spaces on one floor of a building within 6 minutes, which would have been absolutely beyond the power of a single large drone.