A group of MIT researchers recently completed a series of test flights, navigating an airplane that operates without human control or an onboard GPS navigation system through a close-quarters course in a parking garage.
The plane looks like a model airplane, but it has advanced technology in its guts that can be seen sticking out behind the nose. The two-meter wingspan is just shy of some spaces in the parking garage where it was tested. The tracking technology developed in the project is available to the public. One possible re-use of the technology is to track construction workers in dangerous situations where GPS is not available.
"The vehicle is localizing against a 3D map," says Abraham Bachrach, an electrical engineering grad student at MIT. "It fuses information from inertial sensors and a 2D LiDAR carried onboard to estimate its state. All computation is done onboard the vehicle, but it sends its position back to the base station over WiFi so that we can monitor it."