Toward optic flow regulation for wall-following and centring behaviours

  • Serres Julien
  • Ruffier Franck
  • Viollet Stéphane
  • Franceschini Nicolas

  • Urban canyon navigation
  • Hovercraft
  • MAV Micro-Air Vehicle
  • Motion detection
  • Biomimetics
  • Bionics
  • Biorobotics
  • OF Optic Flow
  • Insect navigation


In our ongoing project on the autonomous guidance of Micro-Air Vehicles (MAVs) in confined indoor and outdoor environments, we have developed a bio-inspired optic flow based autopilot enabling a hovercraft to travel safely, and avoid the walls of a corridor. The hovercraft is an air vehicle endowed with natural roll and pitch stabilization characteristics, in which planar flight control can be developed conveniently. It travels at a constant ground height (~2mm) and senses the environment by means of two lateral eyes that measure the right and left optic flows (OFs). The visuomotor feedback loop, which is called LORA(1) (Lateral Optic flow Regulation Autopilot, Mark 1), consists of a lateral OF regulator that adjusts the hovercraft's yaw velocity and keeps the lateral OF constant on one wall equal to an OF set-point. Simulations have shown that the hovercraft manages to navigate in a corridor at a "pre-set" groundspeed (1m/s) without requiring a supervisor to make it switch abruptly between the control-laws corresponding to behaviours such as automatic wall-following, automatic centring, and automatically reacting to an opening encountered on a wall. The passive visual sensors and the simple control system used here are suitable for use on MAVs with an avionic payload of only a few grams.