UPenn's quadcopters are learning new tricks. We were impressed last month when video emerged of the autonomous 'copters ducking through very tight spaces with startling agility. Now, the GRASP Lab's tiny aircraft have learned to work in teams to lift heavy payloads with surprising grace.
The team at UPenn devised a claw-like gripper that allows the quadcopters to grab onto flat surfaces and carry objects aloft. But the diminutive aircraft don't possess a whole lot of upward thrust, so to lift heavier objects the team introduced some team spirit to their software. A dose of cooperative logic allows two or more quadcopters to collaborate on the same task, lifting heavier payloads while maintaining impeccable balance. They can even carry the payload around without listing to one side or the other.
The degree of control and agility these things show is pretty amazing, and you can see it for yourself in the video below. Personally, we'd like to see the GRASP Lab put their quadcopters through the Tempur-Pedic test -- one glass of red wine riding atop those two-by-fours, four quadcopters, no spillage. By all appearances, it seems like they could do it. What's up, UPenn, feeling up to the challenge?
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.