Image of a Drone
A trajectory-planning model helps drones fly more safely at high speeds through previously unexplored areas, which could aid search-and-rescue missions through dense forests. (Image courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers developed a trajectory-planning model that helps drones fly at high speeds through previously unexplored areas, while staying safe. The model — named “FASTER” — estimates the quickest possible path from a starting point to a destination point across all areas the drone can and can’t see, with no regard for safety.

But, as the drone flies, the model continuously logs collision-free “back-up” paths that slightly deviate from that fast flight path. When the drone is unsure about a particular area, it detours down the back-up path and replans its path. The drone can thus cruise at high speeds along the quickest trajectory while occasionally slowing down slightly to ensure safety.