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Drones and robotics, for the second year running the BioRobotics Institute of Sant'Anna School is among the finalists in the UAV Chase Challenge, the international robotics competition organised by Purdue University

Publication date: 20.04.2023
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The BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa has been selected among the thirteen universities that will compete in the second edition of the international robotics competition called IEEE 2023 UAV Chase Challenge and organised by Purdue University, which will take place in Lafayette (Indiana, USA) at Purdue's UAV Research and Test Facility (PURT) on 21 and 22 April. 
The competition involves the use of drones capable of flying indoors and performing certain tasks autonomously, without pilot intervention. The SSSA team, coordinated by Stefano Roccella and comprising 10 people, including eight engineering honor students from the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Academic Faculty of Experimental Sciences), reached the final stage for the second year running. The initiative was supported by the Luca Cavallini Onlus Foundation.

Drones at the indoor flight test

Also in this second edition, a drone must chase a small moving object (a model of a pre-programmed car) flying completely autonomously in the presence of obstacles represented by small scale buildings. The task will be made more difficult than in the first edition because the object will move at greater speed in a more winding path. 
In the initial qualification phase, the group from the Institute of BioRobotics took first place, developing a simulator the UAV's navigation control codes based on a three-dimensional vision system for obstacle avoidance. Artificial intelligence algorithms based on vision and inspired by the flight of birds enable the recognition of a moving object and its pursuit between buildings. 
During the finals, the codes developed in the simulator will be implemented on the real drones. The winner will be the one who manages to fly the drone autonomously between buildings while maintaining a distance of 1 metre from the moving object for the longest time. 

SSSA team

The Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna team is composed of: Stefano Roccella, team coordinator; Andrea Vannini, UAV navigation and vision system manager; and the students: Davide Bettarini, Nicola Riccardi, Antonio Ciociola, Antonio Andrea Salvalaggio, Su Qi Chen, Francesco Scarrone, Taulant Arapi and Simone Cirelli