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# Radially Segmented Multi Level Drone Flight Corridors

Direction drone is flying determines how high it flies to avoid collision.
 (+7, -1) [vote for, against]

Drones have the promise of delivering products to people's doorstep. There are issues with this, but assuming this finds popularity, a simple way to avoid mid air collision might be to have all drones that are flying at the same altitude fly in the same direction.

So any given area, your map is broken into degrees on the compass. Where you're going would determine how high you fly. You'd have 36 directions each having its designated altitude.

North = 500 feet.

North + 10 degrees = 510 feet

North + 20 degrees = 520 feet etc.

This would afford a great deal of separation between drones flying in opposite directions and close proximity passes only when they are flying almost in the same direction.

A standard speed would be necessary to keep drones on the same path from overtaking and crashing into each other.

 — doctorremulac3, Aug 05 2016

Something like this? Anti_20Altitude_20Fixation
[ixnaum, Aug 09 2016]

Possibly the Skyline scene [bungston] mentioned? https://www.youtube...watch?v=TNTD1j8YRuM
Dumbest way to deliver a nuclear warhead I've ever seen. Also cringeworthy filmmaking/acting in general. [notexactly, Aug 18 2016]

sounds like Anti Altitude Fixation but for drones (link) ... makes even more sense with drones [+]
 — ixnaum, Aug 09 2016

"Airways" for real aircraft are Baked & WKTE for a very, very long time....
 — 8th of 7, Aug 09 2016

 I was thinking about 3d space for planes on watching a clip from a movie called Skyline, in which a (legion?) of drones attack the alien mothership. The drones approached in a horizontal line along a plane like a bunch of Greek hoplites. I suppose that makes it easier to show but did not make a lick of sense - an alien defender would get a chance to attack multiple drones as they approach, and closely spaced the drones were at risk from debris due to adjacent fights.

 If I were commanding a drone attack I think they should come in from all points of the sphere around the floating target.

Ok doc here is your challenge. Your flight corridor is all fine and good for drones tooling along the level. But I suspect most civilian delivery drone courses will be an arc of some sort. Bust out that calculus and show how your scheme can deal with overlapping and possibly interecting arcs of various sizes.
 — bungston, Aug 09 2016

I think this is the wrong kind of system. It would be more better to ensure that drones are aware of eachother, and then give them some basic flock- behaviour algorithms. This would allow for more flexibility and greater efficiency.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 09 2016

 // flock- bahaviour //

Like sheep, then ?
 — 8th of 7, Aug 09 2016

Aham.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 09 2016

 //"Airways" for real aircraft are Baked & WKTE for a very, very long time....//

 This isn't that. Airways are simply designated paths in the sky, exactly like roads only you can't see them.

 This is a very cheap, very easy to apply dynamic air corridor designation concept that can be used anywhere on the planet using only an altimeter and a compass. No ground control, no collision avoidance radar and most importantly, no designated air corridor maps you have to follow. This can be used anyplace, over the Arctic Circle or the Gobi Desert, the paths are the same, if you're going North +30 degrees, you fly at 530 feet.

 Only flaw with this is if you fly over the North Pole you go from flying north to flying south and have to change your altitude.

 The problem of drones flying across the North or South Pole and having to change their altitude would almost never arise so not a real problem.

As far as the arc flight paths, they'd have to fly a straight line. They'd have to travel vertically to and from flight altitude to achieve this. You would have a brief crossing of paths if you flew through other corridors getting to yours so it's not perfect.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 10 2016

 Ok, woke up with the solution to the ascending / descending collision problem.

 When a drone takes off, it emits a high frequency sound too high for human ears but readable by other drones. As it ascends, it registers its height by the frequency of the sound so approaching drones can hear that there's a drone encroaching on its flight path.

 If the approaching drone hears this, it emits a specific multi frequency beep that the other drone can hear, like a car sounding its horn. The beep consists of a warning frequency and the approaching drones altitude. The drone that's taking off or landing hears this and moves above or below the approaching drone's path.

 Neat side effect of this is a drone taking off would make an ascending sound like a 1950s sci-fi flying saucer taking off and a descending tone as it landed.

Although it would be beyond human hearing.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 10 2016

 Could drive the dogs nuts though.

Howabout just a coordinated system in which they already know eachother's positioning? Automated drone air traffic control central?
 — RayfordSteele, Aug 10 2016

 // a coordinated system in which they already know eachother's positioning? Automated drone air traffic control central?//

 No no no. Central control will be a disaster. Bees, fish and birds have this all worked out, and fly in dense - sometimes interpenetrating - swarms yet never collide. And they have no central control.

 It is incredibly easy to simulate bird flocks or fish shoals. All that is needed is a handful of internal rules which each individual follows, and an ability to sense nearby flock/shoal members.

Flocking rules are extremely robust: even if one bird goes nuts, the others avoid colliding with it by following the flocking rules. And each individual can go wherever they want by the most efficient collision-free route at the time. Likewise, even a non-compliant drone blasting through a crowd of flocking drones will not cause a collision.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2016

 //Howabout just a coordinated system in which they already know eachother's positioning? Automated drone air traffic control central?//

 That would require network connectivity and central control of all the flying units. This seeks to avoid that. Anybody can fly anyplace around the world with this system, no central control or radio communication necessary.

 //No no no. Central control will be a disaster. Bees, fish and birds have this all worked out, and fly in dense - sometimes interpenetrating - swarms yet never collide. And they have no central control.//

 Yes, as you say, central control is to be avoided, and of course, first we see how father nature has achieved the job. Problem is, swarming in nature is all about flying in the same direction so not much to go on when trying to figure out how to have thousands of things flying in all directions.

Now of course, one may ask, will there ever be thousands of things flying in all directions? Dunno, but if there were, this would be the simplest way to keep them from colliding.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 10 2016

 //swarming in nature is all about flying in the same direction so not much to go on when trying to figure out how to have thousands of things flying in all directions.//

 Flocking algorithms still allow for each member to have its own agenda - two flocks of birds can interpenetrate, for instance. In fact the same rules will allow every member of the flock (which would no longer look like a flock) to have a different preferred direction. The flock rules only serve to avoid collisions.

Either system might work, but a flocking system will continue to work (and remain collision-free) even if there are rogue elements that don't follow the rules.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2016

Problem is, you're asking a lot of the sensory mechanisms and their reaction times.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 10 2016

 I interpreted this system to be integral to the drones, not something imposed on a dumb machine by a pilot. The drone knows path and would choose altitude accordingly. Audio communication with nearby drones would also be automatic and would work if the drones were not too crazy fast. Radio instead of audio would work for fast drones; still autonomous.

The problem would be rouge drones which declined to communicate with the commoners, and were also a very undroneish shade of red.
 — bungston, Aug 10 2016

 //you're asking a lot of the sensory mechanisms and their reaction times.//

Not so much. The sensors need only detect the distance to the nearest drone (or bird! This system will avoid birds too!) in each of six directions (up, down, left etc) - effectively a parking-radar, and surely easy enough to implement. The reaction time of the electronics will be negligible; the reaction time of the drone will be determined by its mass etc, but you can choose the range at which it decides to avoid another drone. This also means that big, slow drones can take avoiding action early, whilst smaller nimbler drones can be a bit more efficient by only dodging when it's really necessary.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2016

I'm sure there are other solutions, this one is just the simplest, and I also left out that I think drones need to be hardened against RF interference. I'm assuming when the stuff hits the fan any RF control of these things goes out the window with jamming.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 10 2016

 Both scenarios need to be tested for efficiency against one another in the 3Dunder dome!

Two plans enter... one plan leaves.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Aug 10 2016

Just thought of another big advantage of this system. No need for standardization. Anybody can make a drone that won't crash into others as long as it has a simple altimeter and compass and adheres to this flight rule. No communication between manufacturers of the drones is necessary at all. No updates would ever be necessary either. There's nothing to update.
 — doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2016

 While this would successfully achieve its stated objective, it would do so at the expense of most of the usefulness of drones. For tasks like mapping and urban tree inspection, drones need to be able to fly in specific directions at specific altitudes, combinations which likely don't coincide with your rule.

The guy who runs the RC Model Reviews YouTube channel is working (slowly—the government and the radio control association are obstructing him, apparently) on a passive radar sense-and-avoid system. I think that would work well with [MB]'s suggestion of bird-style collision avoidance.
 — notexactly, Aug 18 2016

 //over the Arctic Circle or the Gobi Desert, the paths are the same//

You may have some trouble crossing the Himalayas at 530 feet. Or Manhattan, for that matter.
 — pertinax, Apr 14 2021

 The heights would be customized to the area obviously. The relative height to direction ratio is what would be a standard.

 This is one I kind of wish I had patented because I'm predicting that this is how it'll be done when we get drone delivery for everything from mail to fast food. Right now the only thing really stopping that from happening is people assuming that hundreds of drones flying every which way over a city at any time would need a complicated, high tech, failure prone traffic management system which this makes unnecessary.

And think about this system compared to what we do now. A 2,000 pound vehicle being driven by a human to deliver a hamburger? We actually do this. Absurd.
 — doctorremulac3, Apr 14 2021

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