HOW DOES a parrot navigate indoors?
Pretty poorly! Pretty poorly!
In the hope that this joke never sees the light of day again, Linux distro maker Canonical and drone maker Parrot have joined forces to create S.L.A.M.dunk, a development kit to help design autonomous vehicles that avoid obstacles even in the most innest of indoors.
The system uses a combination of Ubuntu and ROS (Robot Operating System) to provide an environment for prototyping self-driving, 3D mapping or data gathering. Attaching it to a drone turns it into an "intelligent robot", according to Ubuntu.
The S.L.A.M. part refers to Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping and provides an alternative when GPS isn't an option. But it can also use its cameras to map obstacles at an immediate level using a variety of sensors to create a physical 3D readout of the environment.
Combining the two operating systems allows S.L.A.M.dunk to be used for a wider range of products, including articulated arms and roving robots.
The S.L.A.M.dunk weighs 140g and has an Nvidia Tegra K1 GPU chip, a fish-eye stereo camera at 60fps and 1500x1500 resolution, an inertial measurement unit, an ultrasound sensor, a magnetometer and a barometer.
And for good measure, Parrot tops it all off with an HDMI port, allowing you to turn it into a fully functioning Ubuntu 16.04 machine just by adding a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Because absolutely no reason at all, unless you don't like weirdly shaped computers.
Well, actually that's not true. It means that devs can do tweaks and stuff without faffing about taking the prototype apart which, when you think about it, is rather cool.
What we'd love to see now is the S.L.A.M.dunk combined with the American Power Glove mod that we showcased in July, in which an ageing Nintendo accessory was revived as a controller for a Parrot AR Drone Quadcopter. µ
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