Using Drone Swarms To Map Oil Spills
” Thousands of ants converge to follow the most direct path from their colony to their food and back. A swarm of drones quickly map an offshore oil spill. What could these events have in common?
Each extremely complex task is accomplished by individuals following very simple rules. But to make the drones do it, a bit of nature’s magic must be captured in a mathematical formula.”
” “Nature may not proactively use mathematics, nor does it have foresight. It behaves in ways driven by feedback, implicit drive for adaptation, and a certain degree of apparent randomness,” said Souma Chowdhury, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “But we can look at what kind of mathematical principles define that behavior. Once we have that, we can use it to solve very complex problems.”
Chowdhury is pioneering a way to program a team of drones to quickly map an oil spill. The study, called “A Swarm-Intelligence Approach to Oil Spill Mapping using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” optimized and simulated a five-drone swarm that can map a nearly one-kilometer wide spill in nine minutes.”