Researchers at UPenn’s GRASP Lab taught quadrotor helicopters “precise aggressive maneuvers” then gave them claws and programmed them to lift objects in unison and recover from violent throws.  Then they taught them how to play hacky sack andkeyboardjust to mock us; it’s not bad enough they can destroy us but they also know how to loiter on our street corners like hippies and buskers?  Damn you, quadrocopters.

Not happy with the quadrocopters’ reliance on an outside computer and external sensors to coordinate their movements, Nathan Michael, Matthew Turpin, and Vijay Kumar are now teaching the quadrocoptors how to more effectively create a self-regulating robot swarm.  STOP THAT.

Just like with a formation of fighter jets, there’s a leader robot in each squad along with several follower robots. The followers have just two jobs: follow the leader, and preserve the shape of the formation. 

They left out the third job: exterminate humans.  I’m sure they just forgot to mention it.  Anyway, the quadrocopters are able to stay within 2 centimeters of where they are supposed to be 50% of the time.  When they fail, the quadrocopter is supposed to move away from the swarm without interrupting the formation, allowing the swarm to be terrifyingly maintained as shown in the video below.

They plan to take this self-regulating swarm out of the lab soon and test it in an outdoor environment, which couldn’t possibly go wrong.  One thing is certain: we’re going to need a lot more crowbars.

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Comment by Pam Vredenburg on February 4, 2012 at 12:10am


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