Astro Drone - a crowdsourcing game to improve vision algorithms
Contribute to future space exploration by playing the Astro Drone game! The Astro Drone app is available for free download in the App store of Apple.
The Astro Drone game is part of a scientific crowd sourcing project. People who possess a Parrot AR drone can play the game, in which they are challenged to perform different space missions in an augmented reality. The first release contains the training level, in which players learn to dock as well as possible to the International Space Station. New levels will be added incrementally with new releases. Below you find a few screenshots of the first level of the game as well as a video.
However, as mentioned above, the iPhone app is more than a game. Players can choose to contribute to a scientific crowd sourcing experiment that aims to improve autonomous capabilities of space probes, such as landing, obstacle avoidance, and docking. The app processes the images made by the AR drone's camera, extracting abstract mathematical image features. These features can neither be interpreted by humans, nor can the original image be reconstructed. However, the features can be used by robots to learn how to navigate in their environment. Players can join the experiment by going to the high score table. If they agree, the feature data is sent over the internet.
Read the scientific description of the experiment to learn the details on the transmitted data.
You can download the app for free in the App store of Apple.
We are working on the following issues with the app:
- The app can crash at start-up for iOS versions 5.0 / 5.1. The reason is that we are using OpenGL features that are only available for higher iOS versions. We have submitted an update (1.2) that will set the minimum requirement to 6.0.
- When a player is connected to the drone while visiting the high score table, he / she will see a transmission symbol but no message regarding internet activity. In the submitted version 1.2 we have added a warning if there is no internet connection. This typically means that the player is connected with the WiFi to the drone, and not to the internet. A solution that always works (but is slightly cumbersome) is to leave the app, reconnect to your internet WiFi and go back to the app.
- The marker is not always recognized, even if it is within camera view and very clearly detectable for a human. The marker detection happens onboard of the drone and works pretty well, given the computational constraints on the drone. However, recognizing the marker under different circumstances is not an easy computer vision problem. So we're afraid you just have to try out different places. Typically daylight helps a lot.
We also intend to release an Android version of the app, but cannot give an estimate yet of when it will come out.
AstroDrone is a project performed by the Advanced Concepts Team of the European Space Agency.
The researchers involved in the project are:
- Paul K. Gerke (European Space Agency / Radboud University Nijmegen)
- I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper (Radboud University Nijmegen)
- Guido C.H.E. de Croon (European Space Agency)
Contact / Feedback
For questions, comments, or suggestions to improve the game, please contact