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Kinect-copter created by grad student

UC Berkeley students use Xbox 360's motion sensor as depth-perception tool used in autonomous flight of unmanned quadrotor.

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The list of non-gaming uses for the Kinect keeps growing and growing. Just over a month after the motion-sensing system was first unlocked by open-source software engineers, researchers and tinkerers are finding more and more uses for the device.

The latest? A University of California Berkeley graduate student has attached a Kinect unit to a quadrotor aircraft, turning the device's infrared camera into the vehicle's spatial sensor. The quadrotor can sense its surroundings using the Kinect, with processing done on an onboard Linux computer via open-source OpenKinect drivers.

The Kinect-enabled quadrotor can autonomously sense obstacles.
The Kinect-enabled quadrotor can autonomously sense obstacles.

The result? The quadrotor is capable of autonomous obstacle avoidance. As can be seen in the video below, the device can run a predetermined course around objects. When something is placed in its path, it pauses in midflight to avoid any collision.

The Kinect-enabled quadrotor was created by grad student Patrick Bouffard as part of the STARMAC Project at UC Berkeley's Hybrid Systems Labs. Though Microsoft maintains that the Kinect's primary use is gaming, it has approved of its use in open-source research after initially resisting such uses for the device.

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