Technion Students and Researchers Build “Rahfan” – A Micro Robotic Helicopter that Navigates, Photographs and Maneuvers Independently

1This helicopter can be used for special operations, observation and tracking

Students in the Technion’s Faculty of Computer Science have built “Rahfan” – a micro robotic helicopter that navigates, photographs and maneuvers independently. It can be used for special operations, observation and tracking. This was revealed in the Faculty newspaper – Homepage.

‘Today, after a number of development stages, we have reached an overall weight of one kilogram, with air time of 30 to 40 minutes,” explains the lab engineer for intelligent systems, Ronen Keidar. “The Rahfan can enter a building through the window, perform its mission and then go back out.”

Prof. Ehud Rivlin, who leads the project on behalf of the Faculty, noted that the students under his direction contributed to the project with respect to information processing and computerized vision. “Using different sensors that we added to the Rahfan, we have given it the ability to detect obstacles and prevent collisions, maintain altitude and to orient itself using a three-dimension map.”

At this stage, the camera is located on the Rahfan’s underbelly but the Technion researchers are about to equip it with an additional camera so that it will be able to photograph both forward and backward – in effect providing a 360 degree picture on a horizontal plane.

“We have added a pocket PC that enables us to increase the Rahfan’s processing ability,” adds Erel Uziel, a graduate of the Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion, who participated in the development. “The computer controls the Rahfan using a control box mounted on the Rahfan, which is responsible for steering, thus providing the Rahfan with wireless communication with a ground station in order to receive flight instructions and transmit location and images using the computational and communication capabilities of the pocket PC.”

The project is being led by Prof. Ehud Rivlin of the Faculty of Computer Science, Prof. Pini Gurfil of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, laboratory engineer for intelligent systems Ronen Keidar and hardware engineer Sergei Danilian. The project is being financed by the Devorah Foundation and the Technion Autonomous Systems Program.

Above: The Rahfan hovers over the Technion’s Faculty of Computer Science. Photographer: Prof. Shaul Markovitz, Technion Spokesman’s Office