Swarming micro air vehicles may be the natural disaster recovery agents of the future.
A team of Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have engineered a quick way to establish wireless networks using flying robots. These swarming robots would be of benefit to disaster response teams whose first port of call in the wake of catastrophe is to establish radio or mobile communication networks to coordinate the search for survivors. Currently these networks have limited transmission capacity and require specialist knowledge to set up.
The micro vehicle cloud could overcome these obstacles: it would hover above disaster struck areas with each robot in the swarm emitting a wirless signal to enable wi-fi filtered communication between rescuers
The main point is to provide high bandwidth digital communication, for instance to transmit high-resolution images, video streams and voice
In an interesting instance of biomimicy the scientists looked to the insect world to best distribute the vehicles above a designated zone:
Zufferey’s team took inspiration from the way ants leave chemical trails to guide colonies to sources of food. Some of the vehicles hover in small circles linked to the location of rescuers and the other vehicles navigate around these markers