One of the premises in the drone market is to make these devices smaller and smaller. We have already seen pocket-sized solutions, such as the latest Xiaomi drone, but there is still a long way to go to get a micro drone that is really functional. Or not. And it is that MIT engineers have just presented a navigation chip that measures only 20 square millimeters. What does this mean? that much of the electronics of future micro drones will have the size of a 10-cent coin. Almost nothing.
This chip developed by the most prestigious technology university, under the name of Navion, not only has a really measured dimensions but also requires only 24 milliwatts of power, one thousandth of what a desk lamp needs, to function so that The big problem when manufacturing micro drones is solved.
And is that the biggest obstacle so far to make a gadget of this type fell into the consumption of energy: any drone needs a power supply that allows you to maintain the flight for a long period of time and, the fact of requiring so little energy to operate will allow to use smaller batteries, or what is the same, that the next generation of micro drones have a very good flight autonomy.
Another advantage of this new Navion chip is that the processor developed by MIT is capable of processing video at a rate of 171 frames per second while tracking inertial measurements, which makes it able to understand its location in a three-dimensional space, so it will not require a GPS to position itself. With this, the fururos drones will be able to fly autonomously in environments where there is no GPS coverage.
This type of technology can be very useful in many aspects. We no longer speak only in the leisure market, to have drones of really small dimensions that we can take in your pocket and use whenever you want. The fact that the next generation of micro drones have greater autonomy will allow them to be used in rescue tasks, for example, to detect people trapped in collapsed buildings after an earthquake.
“I can imagine applying this chip to low-energy robotics, such as vehicles with fins the size of a fingernail, or vehicles lighter than air like weather balloons, which have to last for months with a battery,” says Sertac Karaman, co- leader in this MIT project. “Or imagine medical devices like a little pill that you swallow, that can navigate intelligently with very little battery so you do not overheat on your body. The chips we are building can help with all this. “