ESA launch crowdsource augmented reality game

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Guido de Croon demonstrates AstroDrone node full image 475x316 ESA launch crowdsource augmented reality game

The European Space Agency have released a free app for owners of the Parrot AR.Drone – the iOS controlled home drone.  

ESA’s augmented reality game recreates the International Space Station and requires the user to dock the drone for real.
The game may be fun, but the AstroDrone app is part of a scientific crowdsourcing project by ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, gathering data to teach robots to navigate their environments.  The data will be gathered to improve the way robots see distances.
“People intuitively assess their position and motion in relation to their surroundings in various ways, based on what they see before them,” explained team research fellow Guido de Croon.
“This new app lets us crowdsource examples of this process in practice, as a first step to reproducing it with artificial intelligence." 
Playing AstroDrone large 475x267 ESA launch crowdsource augmented reality game
“For ESA, the result could be much more autonomous spacecraft that can reliably manoeuvre, dock or land themselves. This development opens up completely new ways of involving the public in scientific experiments,” noted Leopold Summerer, head of the Advanced Concepts Team. “We can obtain real-life data to train our algorithms in large amounts that would practically be impossible to get in any other way.
Docking the spacecraft ESA launch crowdsource augmented reality game
Once the app is downloaded from the iTunes store, the idea is to place the markers on different objects at home or outside and attempt to ‘dock’ the drone on the marker (International Space Station docking port).  High scores can be submitted to the ESA at the end of the game and that data is then used to improve future robot navigation. High scores are awarded for rapid but controlled flight, with bonus points for correct orientation and low speed on final approach.
For more information and to watch a video of it in action click here.