The goal of FIRA Air competition is to encourage research teams for solving current problems of developing a smart and efficient drone in both commercial and industrial fields. While drones are used widely for aerial imaging, there are still lots of challenges when it comes to an autonomous, reliable and secure solution. Overall most of these difficulties are related to localization, exploration, and intelligent navigation in dynamic environments. The main challenge in this competition is towards smart drones capable of high altitude inspection and carrying packages in urban environments.
Nowadays, drones are used for carrying packages in well-defined conditions and rural area but doing the same task in an urban environment is a lot more challenging. Tall buildings and existing communicational equipment in the urban environment cause electromagnetic interference which can weaken positioning signals (GPS/GNSS) and thus can lead to greater error in localization and autonomous navigation. In such conditions, additional positioning method is required, and as most of the drones have an imaging camera, positioning based on the machine vision is one of the better choices. A reliable drone package delivery in the urban environment should be able to detect obstacles and avoid any collision. Delivering a medicine package in emergency situations inside a high traffic area is an example of drone package delivery advantage over traditional package delivery.
Another practical application of drones is regular inspection of equipment which is installed in inaccessible locations and is hard to reach. Currently, a professionally trained operator is needed to control the drone to take pictures of the equipment from different angles. The same procedure can be done automatically which will result in simultaneous usage of several drones, higher speed, and more accuracy.