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Flying Robots Flip, Swarm and Move In Formation At UPenn

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-for-one-welcome-our-new-tiny-copter-overlords dept.

AI 122

techgeek0279 writes "The University of Pennsylvania's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory has released a video of flying nano quadrotor robots. Inspired by swarming habits in nature, these agile robots avoid obstructions and perform complex maneuvers as a group."

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Freakin awesome (5, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910689)

In one of those clips, I imagined "space invaders", in real life.
Would be fun to play space invaders with swarms of things.

Re:Freakin awesome (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910787)

More "fun" once they figure out how to arm them with tasers.

Re:Freakin awesome (5, Funny)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910823)

Would be fun to play space invaders with swarms of things.

... until they start carrying live ammo.

Re:Freakin awesome (4, Insightful)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911121)

In fact they are probably so cheap that you only need to load them with plastic explosives and send your little swarm of kamikaze robots to rain down on your enemy. I cant put my finger on it, but there is something very angry birds about this.

Re:Freakin awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911913)

looks like it will only work with stationary sensors surrounding the swarm.

Home beacon (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912983)

looks like it will only work with stationary sensors surrounding the swarm

I don't think so

The swarm, for now, may still need a stationary beacon to give them a sense of location, but that does not mean they will forever need to home in stationary beacons to function

The beacon can be anything - and it could even be a UAV which guides them to their destination

The cruelty of future wars will only increase many folds, thanks to the swarming robots, I'm afraid !

Re:Freakin awesome (1)

pburghdoom (1892490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914319)

It is a Vicon [vicon.com] system. They are pretty standard in robotics research labs. They are used from motion capture and localization. I imagine at this point it is needed for them to function properly but could later be replaced with any method of localization, gps or the likes.

Re:Freakin awesome (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912315)

Then, call up Fry to fight them! [google.com] ;)

Re:Freakin awesome (1)

Naso540 (2304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912371)

Look out Blue Angels! This is pretty cool.

Re:Freakin awesome (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913251)

In one of those clips, I imagined "space invaders", in real life.

So I wasn't the only one? (I think it's the positioning of the rotors - they have the same basic shape as the invaders.)

If they're cheap enough, something like this would be fun for skeet shooting. Imagine the challenge of clay pigeons that can change trajectory on a dime!

It'd also be great for military training, too...

Might be because I just watched the Terminator movies again recently, but all of the uses I can seem to come up for these robots seem to involve shooting them with a high powered gun or rifle. =|

Re:Freakin awesome (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914575)

Oblig. Futurama reference (quote probably inaccurate): "Sir! We're taking heavy damages! What are your orders?" "Lower altitude! Reverse direction! Increase speed!"

oppurtunity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910697)

omg if someone doesnt make them reenact space invaders ill lose faith in humanity

Re:oppurtunity (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911909)

Tetris.

3D Tetris with helicopters inside the cubes.

Amazing... (5, Funny)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910721)

Until they realize they can band together to form a large man-eating mega bot.

Ah Bollywood (5, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911351)

We aren't quite at the level of Indian Robot Endhiran yet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yBnl_krN_U [youtube.com]

Re:Ah Bollywood (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912517)

Ok that was just drenched in awesome sauce

Re:Ah Bollywood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38913779)

Hear hear

Re:Ah Bollywood (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913719)

What does one say to a clip like that...mind bogglingly wild. That is a movie for a rainy weekend day with a good beer and chips

I for one, blah blah blah (4, Funny)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910725)

I know we don't have the collective willpower to skip the joke this time, so let's just get it out of the way.

Re:I for one, blah blah blah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911017)

I for one, welcome those who strive to save us from "I for one, welcome ... " jokes...

Re:I for one, blah blah blah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911061)

I know we don't have the collective willpower to skip the joke this time...

You patently don't, but why not give the rest of us the benefit of the doubt?

Re:I for one, blah blah blah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911443)

'cause maybe he knows us better than that. personally i thought it was a nice spin.

Re:I for one, blah blah blah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912001)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of them... um... doh.

Re:I for one, blah blah blah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38913663)

I know we don't have the collective willpower to skip the joke this time, so let's just get it out of the way.

I, for one, will mourn you when our swarming robotic overlords decide to punish you for this disrespect.

Gonna find out who's naughty and nice (5, Funny)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910729)

I see no way in which this technology could be used to invade the privacy of citizens across the world

Re:Gonna find out who's naughty and nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911785)

As I agree with your statement, I also see so many Military applications to this type of sensor and robotic capabilities. If this sensor capability is this well on small robots, WTF are we going to do with it eventually. Equip Global Hawks, and UAV carrying Hellfire Rockets, to fly in swarms, with precision movement, and Near Perfect aerial flipping/dodging capabilities.

    When I saw those flip with precision, my first thought was, "Well fuck trying to use a RPG or bullets" And if they can recover in-flight that fast, then when a UAV with missiles can do soon, just scares me.

    I can't stop imagining what uses this technology can bring.

Re:Gonna find out who's naughty and nice (3, Interesting)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911965)

The Constellation project is already working on using swarms of integrated drones working together to cover the entire battle space. The F-22 already has this capabilities. But there won't be swarms of F-22's because of the cost but integrating data with 5 to 10 jets is already a reality. Creating a swarm of drones adds redundancy and they are way cheaper than F-22's. The computing and parallel processing systems are what makes the the F-22 so lethal and while the F-35 does share a lot of technology with the F-22 it is mostly limited to the geometry and stealth capabilities. You can see the stealth features by analyzing pictures. The internal command and control systems can not be deduced from looking at a picture. The US does not sale F-22's to other countries for a reason.

Speechless (2)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910731)

There is one thing I hate about stuff like this. It makes everything I do look so mundane. Congrats to those of you working on that team!

Link to the Upenn home page (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910739)

Cool stuff, but it needs a link to the home page: https://www.grasp.upenn.edu/ [upenn.edu]

Very cool (and creepy) crawler bot video on the homepage.

These flying bots remind me of you average Alaskan mosquito.

Re:Link to the Upenn home page (5, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911075)

UPenn does a LOT with these quad rotors. They seem to have some pretty smart grad students working on this in research.

One thing to point out is that this stuff doesn't always go as planned. Their Outtake Reel [youtube.com] is pretty entertaining from "Oops" to "Oh shit there goes another few propellers."

Re:Link to the Upenn home page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912075)

They do a lot with Ascending Technology quads, these are new custom microquads built by kmelrobotics--which were/are affiliated with the lab.

Re:Link to the Upenn home page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911345)

Except when you crank those mosquitoes with a Louisville Slugger, they get back up and keep coming after you. DEET is ineffective even at toxic concentrations and I've had limited success with bird shot. These robot things look slightly more fragile.

Re:Link to the Upenn home page (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913853)

These flying bots remind me of you average Alaskan mosquito.

Those bots are not even half as advanced as a mosquito (and far from houseflies) though. Mosquitoes can fly for one to four HOURS: http://www.sove.org/Journal%20PDF/June%202004/Kaufmann.pdf [sove.org]

Mosquitoes can navigate and orient in dynamic environments without requiring external cameras and computers ( http://www.vicon.com/company/documents/UPENNGraspLab.pdf [vicon.com] ). They can find their own sources of fuel, and avoid active and passive threats. They can even produce new mosquitoes in a few days/weeks without a factory.

They can get confused by bright/UV lights, but it's still quite impressive considering their brains are so tiny.

So these bots are interesting, but there's plenty of room for improvements :). We're still not in danger of Skynet bots yet...

Sigh.. (1)

delta98 (619010) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910745)

another good idea turned into a wepon.

Re:Sigh.. (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911261)

It really is a shame seeing interesting technological advances and knowing people are mostly either thinking "how can we hurt people with this" or "how can we make money off of this".

Re:Sigh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911773)

Those UPenn students should done what you've done instead: sit on their fatasses and do nothing.

Careful (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910759)

If your cool flying robots attract any young boys please try keep all those deeply honorable football folk under control.

Re:Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910813)

UPenn != Penn State. You fucking idiot.

Re:Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910905)

That's hardly something I would expect to see on Slash-Dot-Com young man. You have been a very naughty boy with your "Anon" comments and it's time for a spanking.I just may use football to spank you with since its so close and in the shower here with us.Bad! Bad!

Formations != Swarms. (5, Informative)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910771)

Formation does not equal swarm. A swarm of insects doesn't have a known predetermined formation, nor does a flock of birds (not talking about duck v's). Impressive flight characteristics and preprogrammed flight formations, but I don't see anything that suggests you can tell it a destination in the wild and the group will be able to navigate there around random trees, buildings and other obstacles. For example the brick wall pass did not need the whole swarm to pass through the one window. A natural swarm would have flowed around as well as through, because each member would make an effectively random choice about which path to take.

Re:Formations != Swarms. (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910793)

I believe this is a super swarm; It's just bad-assier than a regular swarm.

Re:Formations != Swarms. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910881)

Formation does not equal swarm.

Formation is from of a swarm.

A great number of things or persons, especially in motion. [reference.com]

  Insects don't get the right to define human words in my book.

Re:Formations != Swarms. (4, Informative)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911129)

I think what the GP was trying to say was that it wasn't displaying what is sometimes called "emergent behavior". In this kind of tech, when we discuss "swarm" behavior, we're usually talking about individual entities that don't have very many rulesets except for things like "don't hit your neighbor", "don't hit obstacles", and "match your neighbor's approximate direction and velocity". You can see this in swarms of insects or birds (for example), and of course they're not communicating with each other on their planned trajectories, but the emergent behavior is fascinating.

(disclaimer: I'm no expert in this field, I just read lots of slashdot and others. someone will pipe up and correct my mistakes, which I welcome)

Re:Formations != Swarms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912803)

Nah, you're right. The individual boids (as they are called in software) work on very simple rules. Steer away from local flockmates, steer towards the local flockmates, and steer towards the common heading of local flockmates. These rules have magnitudes, so the apparent contradiction in rules one and two isn't.

Re:Formations != Swarms. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910971)

Formation does not equal swarm.

Just like drone != robot. Language changes. Words change. Even in here, part of the high holy of geekspace...how many times have we seen the USAF drones (large RC aircraft) referred to as 'robots'?

'Robot' implies some independent decision making abilities. Or at least it used to.

Re:Formations != Swarms. (3, Informative)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912109)

Bingo, they are presenting coordinated motion instead. They are close to a swarm, they are independent, but not sure if they are still commanded by a central computer (off-board), which means it's not a swarm by a mile. In hindsight, if they are playing back a script on-board each copter, it would be considered modeling swarm formation, but nothing close to flocking (there needs to be a leader quad).

Omminus (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910841)

For some reason, their hum sounds ominous to me. It's like something from a distopian future.

Re:Omminus (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910883)

If not from the future, perhaps from your past visit to the lake.

Re:Omminus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911353)

OMG! BEES!!! Run for your life!

Oh wait a second, that's not bees... It's... What the hell is that?...

OMG! ROBOTS!!! Run for your life!

Re:Omminus (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910989)

"Come with me if you want to live"

Slash-Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910871)

This video was on Google Plus a while ago.
These 'Tech' news sites are sadly lagging lately, they use to be a great aggregator for the creators, holding real releases of news.
Lately your either in a creator's actual network of connections on plus or your getting your tech news from a leeching blog aggregated by a leeching news feed.

Now /. is no different than Engadget, just profiting off a few creative folks willingness to share.
Except ./ now feels the need to cover political crap and pointless unfunded no-win legal debates.
It's becoming a little more apparent that our parent has left the room.

 

Re:Slash-Old (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910909)

Yeah. I hear the same complaint from a lot of people.

Do you all move in some sort of coordinated swarm or something?

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910885)

Manhacks

Re:One word (1)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910973)

Oh man! I knew these seemed oddly familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Thank you.

Re:One word (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910999)

ya I watched the entire video and that was all I was thinking about the entire time. The future is here and it is scary folks.

Two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38910911)

1. Which country's flag is going to be on the ones coming for me?
2. Will it be bullets or sawblades?

Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38910965)

This is not a swarm of robots cooperating. It's a single computer remotely operating a bunch of quadrotors. Impressive, but not what you imply that it is.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911181)

It was impressive when they did it a couple of years ago with a single quad rotor. Its not any more impressive they have 16 of them - its still the same command/control technology.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911221)

Do you not realize that collision avoidance becomes rather more difficult when the things you're trying to avoid colliding with are themselves moving? They're not setting up a pattern to fly in, the computer is calculating trajectories for each robot such that they won't interfere with each other at any point in the future. A rather taller order.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911325)

Well, yes this is true, but it's not exactly an unsolved problem.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911459)

Yes, they're applying existing algorithms to their existing system. I didn't say it wasn't impressive, I said it was no more impressive than their first system. It would be impressive if they did away with the external optical tracking system and used something that wasn't so line-of-sight and requiring the quad copters to stay in the room surrounded by numerous cameras.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912263)

A lot of the algorithms that get used for formation control are designed, inherently, from a distributed point of view -- meaning, they're based just on relative distances, etc, between the different quadrotors, and could run locally on them. However, when it comes time to actually implement this stuff, it's easiest to just run everything on a PC and use a mocap system, since that's usually viewed as a sufficient proof of concept within the community. There are groups in robotics who have strapped Kinects and laser range scanners to quadrotors to do things like SLAM, so the thinking at a place like the GRASP Lab is that, since other groups are doing this perception work, they don't need to bother with it, and can focus on the part of the problem that's their niche.

It would be nice to see a setup with truly distributed sensing, but the incentives aren't really there to bother.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (5, Insightful)

Laser Dan (707106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911503)

Do you not realize that collision avoidance becomes rather more difficult when the things you're trying to avoid colliding with are themselves moving? They're not setting up a pattern to fly in, the computer is calculating trajectories for each robot such that they won't interfere with each other at any point in the future. A rather taller order.

What collision avoidance?
They are all externally controlled, and the controller knows their position to within a few mm due to the very expensive vicon system they are using.
All they are doing is moving along preplanned and precalculated trajectories.

As a robotics researcher I'm not really impressed.
External control and localisation removes 99% of of the difficulty of the problem.
It also makes this research useless for any actual real-world function, it's only good for fancy demos in their specially prepared room.
If they did that with only onboard sensors and control, THEN I would be impressed.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38912009)

As a robotics researcher...

My ass. Go back to your porn, lying sack of shit.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912161)

The part of the GRASP Lab's quadrotor work that has impressed me the most is simply the controllers they have for their quadrotors. They're not like wheeled robots in that respect; they're not even stable, passively. The lab's earlier videos (e.g., "Aggressive flight maneuvers") are still very cool. Certainly not dealing with perception parts of the problem, but that wasn't the point; the controllers were.

Of course, that's past research. What about this work? I assume it builds on those earlier controllers, but it may well be doing interesting things besides. I'd need to take a look at their new publications to see what's going on under the hood.

Re:Note the cameras, lights, and antennas. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911255)

It's a very cool toy. I want one.

These guys are doing some pretty cool work (5, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911011)

Hey all - These guys work down the hall from me. I don't work with them, but I've seen the lab.

Basically, it seems like it's a motion capture setup with IR cameras and some mostly off-the-shelf software to track 3D position (standard mocap stuff, which I have worked with). I think each drone has an IR emitter on it (you can see it in some shots since the camera has no IR filter). The novel thing here is the algorithmic work required in keeping track of each drone and planning out all the trajectories relative to the other bots (see the figure 8 demo at the end).

It's not going to fly through your window any time soon, unless you can fit a Kinect and some serious horsepower on there without going over the weight budget. But there's no reason to think that the algorithms wouldn't work to control the local bot, with some sort of ad-hoc mesh network for the synchronization.

Re:These guys are doing some pretty cool work (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911273)

It's the kind of thing that makes you want to work with a group like this, just because it's so freaking cool. I can't imagine the amount of time spent to get these things to this level of organization, even for this short video.

Re:These guys are doing some pretty cool work (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913915)

While everybody is complaining Google will snatch these guys up and employ them to direct multiple autonomous vehicles down our highways.

Adhoc mesh network indeed. It's called GPS augmented with cell towers.

Their vehicles already do the local collision detection.

Re:These guys are doing some pretty cool work (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914897)

Yes you can tell by the environment they fly them in. First thing I noticed (other than the creepy flying things) was the drop sheet and the attempts to make a uniform environment, presumably to help the tracking system focus on the targets.

May I suggest next time they use GREEN drop sheets, and then project some interesting images on the green screens! :)

Re:These guys are doing some pretty cool work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915005)

I can envision a beefy quad with a higher payload capacity acting as the mothership. Could put all sorts of cameras and processing on it, and use the afformentioned mesh network. i.e. take the fancy MoCap sysyem and stick it on one big quad.

Disappointed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911013)

When I saw the "nano" attribute of these quadrotor robots I was hoping for them to be at most 1-2centimeters in the largest dimension.
Oh well.

I want to see it scaled up. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911067)

Whoever makes a quad-rotor capable of carrying a pizza and two-liter bottle five miles will make a fortune competing with anyone who still delivers pizza in cars.

More than that, though: when we can switch from ground cars to robotic VTOL transportation for our daily commute, we're going to save a hell of a lot of energy, money, and lives. The hardware and flight control is a solved problem. All we need now is peer-to-peer traffic negotiation, and long-distance navigation.

-jcr

Re:I want to see it scaled up. (1, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911195)

... because vertical flight is so much more energy efficent, cheaper and safer than rolling along the ground ...

Re:I want to see it scaled up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911685)

It is when the vehicle only weighs a few pounds.
Pizza delivery, though, would probably require 40+ pounds with cargo. If that hits a person at 100mph, it will kill.
That said, a million pound jet will kill all the people on board, plus all the people in a much larger radius. Yet they are reliable enough that we allow them to operate over our country, and even takeoff and land in/near our largest cities.
A properly-designed electric hexacopter with brushless motors has a low failure rate and almost never requires maintenence. Quadcopters require all motors to be operable to fly. So if a bird hits the copter and breaks a prop then its going to crash.

The main problem that autonomous aerial pizza delivery must overcome is the actual delivery part. Getting the copter to the customer's location is easy. Getting it to fly or land in front of their front door so that they can pay for and unload the pizza is hard. Preventing the customer from stealing the $5k+ copter is hard.

Re:I want to see it scaled up. (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911237)

We need that and viable human-lift capable VTOL transportation vehicles. Might be a slight problem, there.

Is this the same group? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911133)

Is this the same group that was throwing these quad rotors in a video on /. a year or two ago?

Hmmmmm (1)

Lucky_Pierre (175635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911165)

I can see this ending only in tears.

Re:Hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911217)

Rips, tears, cuts...

Political use considered harmful (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911429)

Notwithstanding the identity of the defendant and other facts in the case, If I am a juror and see these as evidence gathering devices in said case, my mind will be made up for certain.

Schematics? (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911715)

Does anybody know of a good way for me to build my own? I've seen designs for larger ones, but these small quadrotors look like they would be a bit easier for me to work with. I'm more of a software guy than a robotics guy, so designing my own from scratch would probably be a bit above my skill level. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

This is (or should be) ART! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911751)

If these things can auto-land pads and recharge themselves, this would make a great Art installation!

I know that this technology will lead to some real life applications (like if they can be used to jointly move large objects. Maybe they can do things that even skilled human operators cannot and they may make "sky cranes" more practical). Still they are undeniably cool to watch so maybe they could be used in some kinetic 3D Art piece.

Or if not Art, why not Advertising? Get enough of them, put LEDs on them and you'll have a flying, reconfigurable 3D billboard. How about the Pepsi Logo? Or the AT&T "Death Star"?

On second thought maybe not, the night sky is already too cluttered.

Re:This is (or should be) ART! (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912181)

Jon How's group did this (see here [mit.edu] ). I've seen some of the videos; a quick Youtube search isn't turning them up, but if you dig a bit more you'll probably find them.

Manhacks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911799)

I just see HL2 manhacks.

Interesting Stuff (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38911831)

The #1 best quote site on the web is http://www.earthsquotes.com

Not Nano (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911919)

Nano implies these are 10^-9 scale, so the question is, which quadrotors were they looking at, exactly, that these are nano?

Re:Not Nano (1)

larys (2559815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912071)

Just a wild guess, but could it perhaps be part of the name? For the same reason that the Nissan Leaf isn't an actual leaf, there could be quite a bit of artistic license in this choice of name. I only say this because normally people don't name something "15in computer" or "1-cubic-foot ottoman"...also, though the link in the text isn't capitalized, in the title at the top of the video "A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors," the part 'Nano Quadrotors' is capitalized...so it could be their name...?

Re:Not Nano (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913051)

NANO is cool. Those pesky toys would like to be cool. So they need to be NANO.

For some reason... (1)

larys (2559815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912049)

what comes to mind when I saw the video was the phrase: "resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!" That buzzing sound of the motors could certainly become a bit ominous if the swarm of those robots is large enough to block out some sunlight. All in all, it has some wonderful potential -- for surveillance, fun, problem-solving in the field, and intergalactic domination...

Action demonstrates need - (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912225)

In this case it just re-enforces the need to own a shotgun - 16ga with birdshot

bleh (1)

db10 (740174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38912319)

My ex worked on stuff like this on a nasa fellowship. It involved real-time formations for satellites using some kind of sensor feedback loop using control theory.

And the real world usage would be ... (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913049)

... none!
How can they fly? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?
Those (not really) nano robots look more like a very expensive toy. IMHO.

Re:And the real world usage would be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38913755)

Examples of real world usage: 1., anything requiring coordinated logistics, lifting, hauling, constructing, etc., 2., coordinated visual monitoring of complex and expansive theaters of law enforcement or military action, I.e., urban combat zones, 3., providing sensors, reconnaissance and other data for logistical planning, more precise global or relative spatial positioning, etc.

There are a lot of uses for this technology, both at this scale and others where example one would apply. There are a myriad of applications for the technologies being demonstrated and developed here. What we are seeing now are rudimentary behaviors; the first steps toward practical application. Still a few years (maybe decades) before this comes out of the lab and proves safe in the real world, but definitely has uses.

that is the coolest thing I have ever seen. (1)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913077)

ever

Not nano and nothing new (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913333)

They're not nano-sized robots, they're hand-sized.
And they're nothing new, it's just your average quadropter. You can buy that kind of thing (or just the parts) in any good shop on the internet.

Motion Capture (1)

malv (882285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38913439)

The motion capture system is cheating, imho. Mocap machines can localize a point to mm accuracy. In the real world you are not going to have a localization system with that kind of accuracy. Localization, not control, is the hard problem.

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