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35 Innovators Under 35

Inventors

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Lorenz Meier, 32

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

An open-source autopilot for drones.

Lorenz Meier was curious about technologies that could allow robots to move around on their own, but in 2008, when he started looking, he was unimpressed—most systems had not yet even adopted the affordable motion sensors found in smartphones.

So Meier, now a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, built his own system instead: PX4, an open-source autopilot for autonomous drone control. Importantly, Meier’s system aims to use cheap cameras and computer logic to let drones fly themselves around obstacles, determine their optimal paths, and control their overall flight with little or no user input. It has already been adopted by companies including Intel, Qualcomm, Sony, and GoPro.

Russ Juskalian