omniNAV is the future for autonomous drone travel. It allows drones to get from one point to another efficiently and safely without the need for human input or monitoring. Imagine the possibilities this could bring, especially for projects like Amazon's Flying Package Delivery System. Autonomous flight means pizza's can be delivered to your house by drone, small packages can be quickly transported from building to building in a city, and so much more.
Today, drones can be used for an incredible number of applications, from search and rescue, to fire assistance, to shipping, to agricultural inspecting. And the applications expand when humans are no longer needed to control drones. Large-scale package and mail delivery, for example, is only possible when drones can fly themselves, and the already can.
Unfortunately, drones are not sophisticated enough to prevent every high speed air collision and can pose a risk to civilians if used autonomously. That is why we wanted to create a system that would prevent drone collisions with one another and with other aircraft while maintaining the efficiency drones provide.
What It Does
The OmniNav System allows a user to select points on a map and uses an algorithm to calculate the most efficient route to reach the destination based on our SkyRoads Design. This design basically categorizes airspace under 500 ft into eight distinct 25 foot layers, and in each layer all drones fly in the same direction. This ensures that drones will never hit each other, but also enables drones to fly in an almost-straight line towards their destination.
Although other ideas for UAV roads exist, they resemble regular 2D roads, which are inefficient in 3D airspace. We hope the design for SkyRoads will become the standard layout for airspace integrated with autonomous drones.
How We Built It
We used Google Maps and Google Geo API to collect GPS coordinates from users for their start and end locations. We then compiled an algorithm to find the fastest way for the drone to reach its destination using SkyRoads. For now, we are combining Java web server to connect and communicate with the code from Google, and displayed the resulting instructions to the user. However, in real application, the program would directly communicate with the UAV's flight controller, making the entire process autonomous.
Challenges We Faced
Designing the SkyRoads system took a bit of time, but the Pythagorean Theorem Inceptions we completed at 3AM, using basic geometry, was more of a struggle than we expected.
What We Learned
We learned how to work in a team with various skills and combining them to create something brand new. We had many struggles with "what ifs" since our goal was to make the entire system scalable for a global application. We also learned a lot about GPS systems and navigation.
What's Next For OmniNav
We definitely plan to run this by several events, such as the New Brunswick Tech administration, and hopefully to receive some funding for drones that have the technology to work with the software we created. We also want to build a prototype drone the can utilize OmniNav technology to fly autonomously. In the future, we would be interested in working with New Brunswick to establish an FAA approved testing site in the city and begin flying autonomous drones for commercial and public uses.
We plan to launch www.omninavigation.com within the next few weeks.