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!
In odreder to make it fly with remote power you need to have the cable light enough so that it can be lifted, and you also need to be able to supply enough voltage at the required currentm draw. So you must find out the current draw at the required voltage. And you must determine the amount of lifting force available. If the cable is going to be so small that it has a big amount of voltage drop, then the power supply must deliver enough voltage to compensate for that voltage drop, and it must have enough currnt capacity to supply the needed voltage while delivering that current. Besides that, the weight of the selected cable must be less than the available lifting force.
Calculating or measuring these three things will allow a reasonable chance of a first-time success. Starting to try without knowing those three things is just an excercise in wasting time and effort. You might possibly be lucky and find something that works, but probably not. Which your first few attempts showed.
For some reason this video is posted all over the internet, in some places with a 10 minute introduction where the "experimenters" spew forth all their supposed "credentials".
In the end, they simply proved that yes, you can plug an ac adaptor into a battery powered device, and the ac adaptor will last longer than the battery. What an EARTH SHATTERING revelation!
Amazingly, all their "credentials" failed to help them realize what an 8th grade hobbyist realizes.... a device with a larger battery needs a larger ac adaptor....and that there is current loss through cables (head plant!). I half-expect them to try to start their automobile with a 9v transistor battery next!
Then, they went on to proudly display their "achievements" (and lack of basic knowledge) by posting this all over the internet... LoL.