Most of today's commercially available drones have four rotors and more or less look the same (other than that one that's foldable). So if you wanted to own a drone that had, say, five copters or a completely different design altogether, you'd probably have to make your own, which can be a really tedious process. If you don't know where to start customizing your flying masterpiece, MIT's new system could be your first stop. The institute's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)'s latest project is what it says is the first platform that lets you design, simulate and build your own drone.
Through the project interface, you can pick your own propellers, rotors and rods from MIT's database, as well as determine the size, shape and structure of your device. Then, you specify your need for payload, material cost and battery usage. The system will calculate the necessary rod lengths and motor angles, as well as metrics such as torque and thrust to ensure that the overall product is able to take off, hover and land.
"This system opens up new possibilities for how drones look and function," says MIT Professor Wojciech Matusik, who oversaw the project. Indeed, although it isn't publicly available yet (its code is available on GitHub), the new system could enable all kinds of variety in drones that could push the market to innovate and experiment further. That could lead to improvements in areas where drones are lacking, such as longer lasting batteries for better flight times, enhanced camera quality and positioning, as well as sturdier constructions. We've reached out to MIT to see how the public can access the platform. Meanwhile, if you've already got a brilliant (or simply wacky) idea for a drone and want to see if it will work, keep your eyes peeled for instructions on how to use the CSAIL system.