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Game of Drones

thumbnail (2).jpgRobotic Systems, a multidisciplinary engineering firm in Australia, emerged in response to industry demand for complete solutions from concept to replication—as a one-off or in batch production. Engineers on the team have a wide-ranging skill set, with specialization in real-time data acquisition and processing, test and measurement systems, sensor integration, and automation and control.


When Intel and Vivid Sydney (a local festival) approached Robotic Systems with a challenge to design and develop an interactive drone and lighting installation (aka “Game of Drones”), the team quickly accepted the opportunity. It wasn’t simple.


Public safety was a top priority. Here’s why:


  • Untrained members of the public would be operating micro drones within a 6x6m structure
  • The area was located within a GPS dead-zone
  • Drones needed to operate reliably for 6 hours a day for 18 days.


Enter TrackX and LabVIEW


In response to these challenges, Robotics Systems developed TrackX, which is a unique localization system that provides real-time 3D position information for each drone.


thumbnail (1).jpgDespite the lack of GPS, the team achieved positional accuracy by processing the time-of-flight information of radio waves from three known positions to simultaneously locate six or more drones at a rate of 15 Hz.


Using the LabVIEW software package, the team quickly developed a way to integrate real-time measurement data from various devices, apply complex processing logic to make decisions, and then update the drones’ flight paths. The processing logic took positional data from the drones with the LabVIEW development environment, powering real-time trajectory calculation and (most importantly) preventing mid-air collisions.


Thanks to LabVIEW, the team dramatically increased the installation’s usability, safety, and reliability, helping untrained users to fly the drone around the enclosure using a tablet computer.


The Sydney Drone Battle 


The installation at the Vivid Sydney festival attracted huge crowds, including many people who got to fly a drone for the first time. It was also the foundation for a partnership between Robotic Systems and Intel. While this particular application of TrackX was for entertainment purposes only, the system has countless other uses and can locate and position any number of devices within a known environment.



We look forward to seeing what Robotic Systems develops next!