The MIT/Draper team has also made it possible to sync data collected by the drone with a handheld app called the Android Tactical Assault Kit, which has already been used by the British Army and US forces.
A separate team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) reduced their own droneâ€™s size and weight so it can fly autonomously in small, cluttered indoor spaces.
The UPenn drone can create a detailed 3-D map of unknown indoor spaces, avoid obstacles and fly down stairwells.
Camillo J. Taylor from UPennÂ said: “Thatâ€™s very important in indoor environments because you need to actually not just reason about a slice of the world, you need to reason about whatâ€™s above you, whatâ€™s below you.
“You might need to fly around a table or a chair, so weâ€™re forced to build a complete three-dimensional representation.”
The next step, according to Taylor, is packing even more computation onto smaller platforms, potentially making a smart UAV for troops or first responders that is small enough to fit in the palm of the hand.