They jumped in and started playing with an AR drone, a hackable quadcopter that you can control with your phone. The AR drone runs Linux on board, has sonar sensors, and two built-in cameras. The only problem with the AR drone is the fact that you only get a short time on each battery. While you could theoretically purchase a whole bank of batteries and cycle through them, it could be difficult to develop and test while constantly swapping batteries. Especially if you add any power-sucking peripherals, like a Dropcam.
Tara and Sean tackled this issue by tethering their AR Drone. By modifying the power connector, they were able to run the AR drone from a PC power supply and 30 feet of 14-gauge speaker wire. They can now indefinitely run the quadcopter while they test things out and play, at least as long as the motors will run. With only one week at the facility, they didn't go beyond mounting the Dropcam and the figuring out the tether, but that isn't too bad!
It seems there is some time before the quadcopter decides it is dead. Can you control the power supply to raise the voltage as a function of the current (and resistence) so that the voltage at the quadcopter is constant (e.g. not at the power supply).