Flying robots swoop and swarm as a team

Mar 03, 2012

Tech-savvy TED-goers watched in wonder as flying robots darted through tossed hoops, worked together in swarms and even formed a band to play trademark "James Bond" film theme music.

A video of University of Pennsylvania professor Vijay Kumar showing off palm-sized "agile aerial robots" from the college lab logged more than 200,000 views online at ted.com by the time the prestigious gathering ended on Friday.

"Robots like this have many applications," Kumar said.

"They can be sent in buildings as to look for intruders or check for biochemical leaks..into collapsed buildings after disasters or into reactor buildings to check ," he continued.

Kumar held in one hand a small robot resembling a miniature helicopter with four .

It was fitted with and other sensors to feed information about its position and things around it to an on-board processor, which operated as a brain letting it react autonomously and instantly to situations.

"There is no GPS," Kumar explained. "The coordinate system is defined by the robot, where it is and what it is looking at."

He showed groups of flying robots working as teams to carry heavy objects or build block structures based on blueprints alone.

The professor likened the robots' behavior to desert naturally working together to haul a piece of fig back to their nest.

"Once you know how to fly in formation, you can actually pick up objects cooperatively," Kumar said. "We can double, triple, quadruple the robots strength by getting them to team with neighbors."

His presentation finished with nine flying robots banding together to play the James Bond spy film on musical instruments.

"Magnificent," a person writing under the name Kimani Burton said in a chat forum beneath Kumar's video at ted.com.

"Its technological breakthroughs like these that remind me daily of the limitless creative capacity of humans."

Meanwhile, some in the forum lamented the potential military uses of what they saw as self-guided mini-drones.

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a series of conferences designed to present cutting-edge ideas. Speakers are given only 18 minutes to give deliver their pitch.

Explore further: Engineers debut adhesive material based on gecko feet

Related Stories

Airborne robot swarms are making complex moves (w/ video)

Feb 02, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania this week released a video that shows their new look in GRASP Lab robotic flying devices. They are now showing flying devices with more complex ...

Flying machines are YouTube sensation

Mar 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The latest YouTube sensation isn’t a puppy that dances to Lady Gaga or a kitten that opens beer bottles. By using unmanned aerial vehicles called quadrotors, two Ph.D. candidates at the ...

Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

Jun 17, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- When you think about robots, the odds are that you think about something that is fairly large. Maybe you picture a robot arms bolted to the floor of a factory or if you are feeling particularly ...

Ping-pong robots debut in China (w/ video)

Oct 15, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Last week some oohs and ahhs were in order as two ping-pong playing robots made their debut at Zhejiang University in China. The two robots played against each other and with humans. True, ...

Recommended for you

Self-folding robot walks, swims, climbs, dissolves

8 hours ago

A demo sparking interest at the ICRA 2015 conference in Seattle was all about an origami robot that was worked on by researchers. More specifically, the team members are from the computer science and artificial ...

Cheetah robot lands the running jump (w/ Video)

May 29, 2015

In a leap for robot development, the MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs—making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over ...

Robot swarms use collective cognition to perform tasks

May 28, 2015

The COCORO project's robot swarms not only look like schools of fish, they behave like them too. The project developed autonomous robots that interact with each other and exchange information, resulting in ...

Job-sharing with nursing robot

May 27, 2015

Given the aging of the population and the low birthrate both in Japan and elsewhere, healthcare professionals are in short supply and unevenly distributed, giving rise to a need for alternatives to humans ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NeutronicallyRepulsive
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2012
I can recommend this one. It was really one of the jaw-dropping moments on TED this year. While watching, the visions of future start to unfold in your mind.
NeutronicallyRepulsive
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
DrKelly
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
I have seen many of the videos before, but the music video at the end was awesome! Thanks for posting the direct link to the TED video. Might I recommend that the news "story" itself have a link to the TED video.
gregor1
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
link to the video please?
tigger
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
gregor1
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
thanks fantastic
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 05, 2012
They put that music demo together in 3 days including all the modifications to instruments and whatnot)? Wow. These guys are good.

Meanwhile, some in the forum lamented the potential military uses of what they saw as self-guided mini-drones.

As always: Tools will be used for good or bad. It really depends on the person. So we should really start to do some research on how to raise kids not to be people who would want to abuse technology for their own gains.

But I do foresee these kinds of microdrones armed with a single bullet or a dollop of high explosive as throw-away assassin devices. Like guided grenades. Coming to your battlefield (or home), soon.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.