RPi Quadcopter That Can Track Targets?

Hi, I am a total newbie to all this stuff but I have a few questions and hope someone can help me with:

I would like to build a drone using raspberry pi and would like for it to be able to follow a specific vehicle. I don’t know how the vehicle could be ‘marked’ so the drone to differentiate it from other vehicles but I was thinking maybe a long range RF transmitter / receiver might be used to identify it? Then use GPS? The drone would have to recognize terrain and avoid it and then get back to following the vehicle from a safe height. Could I accomplish this using Navio+ fairly easy? Any links or advice appreciated!

Opencv or simplecv are probably your best bet for tracking something relatively close and having obstacle avoidance in the same package. However, it can processor intensive so another device (pi or arduino) may also be needed.

Maybe like this. Using a Rpi

(PDF) This one uses a px4 and opencv.

Some 3DR software products have a “follow me” function that could also be adapted somehow.

Great idea and yes computer vision comes to mind for general sense-and-avoid. But from your description maybe you only/first need some kind of transponder, communication and common positioning system…

I was thinking of something similar with a flying Wifi network. You can use IBSS mode Wifi to have a drone-to-drone network, even when out of range from the ground station. When the target is in Wifi range you can communicate and receive some sort of telemetry/message (e.g. a digital message “follow me, I’m here: GPS coords, altitude”). Then go there, optionally with computer vision/optical flow for general collision avoidance. If you don’t need the vision for identification/following then you can make a much cheaper collision avoidance system with sonar even.

For other types of marking there are also demos on the APM site of IR light emitters/cameras for point accurate landings. I remember there was a question in the forum, either here or on APM, about landing on a boat which may provide inspiration.

It depends on whether you’re doing a friendly or hostile tracking system. Friendly works best with communication of course. Hostile is harder; maybe you could lock onto it’s RC radio frequencies if there is some kind of compact sensor on the (public) market which can give you that information. :sunglasses:

Thanks for the replies folks! I’ll check out the links but noticed this one is dead (http://myrobotlab.org/content/lighting-way-–-how-implement-obstacle-avoidance-single-camera5) i’m sure I can find the correct one using google.

I did check out the ‘follow me’ features from 3DR and it is pretty cool but I want it to be more automated. For example, maybe a button in the car that signals the drone to come find it and then upon locating the car it will then follow it…all this would be automatic…BTW all the tracking would be of ‘friendly’ targets but the thoughts of tracking something hostile is very interesting :slight_smile:

Thanks again for the feedback!

Or maybe a online command center would see all the cars on a map and then could trigger the drone to go find it and track it? This might be an option as well…