Acoustic source location from micro UAVs

December 12, 2013 16:46 | By | Add a Comment

A team of swiss researchers from EPFL has outfitted micro UAVs with a microphone array, which enables the craft to triangulate the position of narrow-band sound sources such as emergency whistles. The fact that they are able to use microphones for source direction detection while in flight is extremely impressive, though of course the nature of the signal (a whistle at a known frequency) certainly helps. They envision this as a mobile tool for rescue workers trying to locate people in distress in difficult terrain, deployed simply by throwing into the air and controlled via a waypoint interface on a mobile phone or handheld.


In search and rescue missions, Micro Air Vehicles (MAV’s) can assist rescuers to faster locate victims inside a large search area and to coordinate their efforts. Acoustic signals play an important role in outdoor rescue operations. Emergency whistles, as found on most aircraft life vests, are commonly carried by people engaging in outdoor activities, and are also used by rescue teams, as they allow to signal reliably over long distances and far beyond visibility. For a MAV involved in such missions, the ability to locate the source of a distress sound signal, such as an emergency whistle blown by a person in need of help, is therefore significantly important and would allow the localization of victims and rescuers during night time, through foliage and in adverse conditions such as dust, fog and smoke. In this work we present a sound source localization system for a MAV to locate narrow-band sound sources on the ground, such as the sound of a whistle or personal alarm.

Check out the stunning video presentation of their results after the break.


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