Tim Barfoot

University of Toronto
Project Title: Visual breadcrumbs for emergency return of unmanned aerial vehicles
Industry Partner: Drone Delivery Canada
Platform: Cloud Analytics

Mining CitiesWater

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade, making wide-ranging applications (e.g., automated remote sensing, precision agriculture, emergency response, reconnaissance & surveillance) a near-term reality. A key building block that is yet to be developed is a solution that enables safe beyond line-of-sight flight, preventing uncontrolled vehicle behaviour in the event of failures such as GPS signal loss.

The goal of this project is to develop a vision-based navigation solution that enables UAVs to safely return home when they lose their means of localization (i.e., GPS). The University of Toronto (UofT) has been developing visual route-following techniques for ground vehicles for the past decade and gained extensive experience in practical deployments during field trials. This project will require major extensions including the adaptation of the ground-based visual navigation framework to aerial applications and the development of new techniques for path planning and localization that guarantee robust path-tracking and safe return. Moreover, safety solutions as proposed here will help to accelerate the development of a regulatory framework for the commercial use of UAVs in beyond line-of-sight applications.