Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New-generation autonomous helicopter to create new era of human safety


Australian scientists have developed a ’brain’, which enables the production of a world-first low-cost, intelligent small helicopter, set to end many difficult and dangerous tasks undertaken by humans.

The CSIRO Mantis can simply be told where to go and what to do, and it will go off, do the job and find its own way home, unassisted.

The low-cost CSIRO Mantis, described as a vertical take-off, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), provides a host of new ways of doing things.

Dr Peter Corke of CSIRO Complex Systems Integration says, "Mantis makes it possible for fleets of small drone helicopters to do jobs now done by conventional aircraft. This could lead to a quantum leap in the speed of air sea rescue efforts - covering many square kilometres faster by having many small aircraft searching at the same time".

"It could inspect and report on the condition of infrastructure such as powerlines, where currently manned, full-scale helicopters are used to look for faults and assist bushfire prevention by looking for close growing trees."

The CSIRO Mantis can take the human-risk from getting a closer than human-look underneath bridges, at high-rise building facades, at mine-faces for stability or even in building lift-wells.

Traffic monitoring, security and military applications offer a large number of other uses for small, intelligent UAVs such as the Mantis.

Dr Corke says, "The CSIRO Mantis overcomes many machine intelligence and cost issues, which have prevented the development of small, almost disposable unmanned air vehicles".

"It was also our aim to develop an inexpensive system where the cost of the electronics, now mostly almost ten times more expensive than the helicopter, would instead be about the same price".

"The major task in developing Mantis", Dr Corke says, "was to produce an inertial sensing system and a computer vision system to control and provide flight stability and to guide the aircraft".

"The inertial sensing system behaves somewhat like our inner ear, providing balance and indicating the orientation of the helicopter in the air. The instrument, custom developed by CSIRO (see photo), uses low-cost MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors and is fabricated from magnesium alloy and weighs only 75 g."

"This is much lighter than current technology and is one of the major reasons we were able to make the brains of the Mantis light enough to be carried by such a small helicopter", Dr Corke says.

The vision system uses two miniature cameras, and powerful CSIRO-developed software running on a medium-powered onboard computer.

"Just as we use our two eyes to estimate the distance of an object, the helicopter uses the data from the two cameras to estimate its height above ground, a very important thing to know."

"The computer also observes the changes in the image over time and from this it estimates its speed over the ground", says Corke.

Developing lightweight components and dealing with vibration has been an important factor of the success of the Mantis to date.

The Mantis is a little over 0.5 m high and just short of 1.5 m long, with a custom-built aluminium frame and landing gear.

The military are also interested in UAVs, and this technology has received a lot of media attention this year. Dr Corke says, "They have generally used very precise GPS guidance equipment, which require an expensive unit onboard the aircraft as well as expensive equipment on the ground".

"While GPS may seem like an ideal technique to use, it has many drawbacks in practice, particularly in built environments near large structures which can obscure or reflect the signals from the GPS satellites."

The CSIRO Mantis is ready to become a regular feature in everyday life in Australia, subject to being programmed for each task a potential customer may require it to perform.

Our civil aviation system has already introduced the world’s first regulations to allow appropriately equipped and certified UAVs to share the skies.

CSIRO is looking for partners interested in commercialising the Mantis’s brain for aftermarket applications for production helicopters.

For Further Information Contact:

George Curran, Industry Manager,
CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology 61 7 3327 4140

Ken Anderson
Manager Marketing Communication
CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology 61 3 9545 2052, mobile: 0414 457 214

Rosie Schmedding | CSIRO
Further information:

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Intelligent wheelchairs, predictive prostheses
20.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

nachricht Jelly with memory – predicting the leveling of com-mercial paints
15.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>