Remember those autonomous robots from the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Laboratory that flew in all kinds of crazy, coordinated formations? Well, they’re back, and they’ve, like, started a band, man.
Professor Vijay Kumar gave a talk at this year’s TED conference in Long Beach, CA and wowed the crowd with footage of his team’s quadrotors flipping, building structures and flying through moving obstacles.
The robots measure about eight inches in diameter and autonomously coordinate with each other to move in a swarm with no central coordination, similar to ants and other insects.
The robots are pretty quick on their “feet” — they can calculate commands at a rate of 100 times per second and translate those to motor commands at a rate of 600 times per second. Ideally they would be used as first responders during disasters, although Kumar also envisions groups of them coordinating to lift heavy objects for construction.
In the above video, their positions were carefully plotted in a room filled with infrared lights and cameras. Maybe if enough people send in requests, one day they’ll totally play Freebird.