McGill University, CIM

A safe pilot knows what to do, not only in normal flight, but in an emergency. For a drone to be equally safe without a pilot, it needs that knowledge programmed in. Researchers at McGill University have been working with Pleiades Robotics to address this issue over the past four years. A beta form of the solution is now available.

A typical quadcopter drone is incapable of inverted flight. Using the hardware and firmware variant developed at McGill, however, the Spiri Mu becomes capable of bidirectional thrust – it can fly upside down. This introduces an increased range of possible maneuvers. For example, as Prof. Inna Sharf explains, "Poor timing or a sudden bump can cause a landing upside down. A standard platform (with unidirectional thrust) cannot recover without human intervention. A Spiri can."

Ongoing work is addressing safe recovery from mid-air collisions and fast tumbles that would quickly bring a standard platform down. In the clip to the left, Spiri flips over, then hovers calmly up while upside-down.