Vijay Kumar, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a talk at last week’s TED2012
that got some attention.
In his lab, Vijay Kumar and his team build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc
teams – for construction, surveying disasters and far more.
TED2012, Kumar demonstrated a robot built like a cross, with four
rotors, each on an end of the cross pointed straight up. Independent
control of the rotors, in all directions plus yaw, gives exquisite
control, he noted.
The advantage of being small is tremendous, researchers claimed. The smaller a robot, the quicker it can turn and maneuver.
of the quadrotor is defined by mathematics in twelve-dimensional space.
But there is a mathematical trick to make it tractable — and it can be
done in a fraction of a second, even with moving obstacles, researchers
The four-rotor robot was created by two students, Alex
Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger. It consumes 15 watts of power
about 8 inches in diameter.
“Robots like this have many applications,” said Kumar in his speech at TED2012. “You
can send them inside buildings as first responders to look for
intruders, maybe look for biochemical leaks … [or they] can be used for
construction and for transporting cargo.”
He continued: “Robots
like this can be sent to collapsed buildings to assess the damage of
disasters or sent to map nuclear radiation levels after a nuclear
The autonomous quadrotor is controlled to precisely
fly along aggressive trajectories. Flips, flight through windows, and
perching on surfaces are demonstrated in the video.
Surprisingly, throughout all video sequences, there is no mention about surveillance and military applications.
Do you also see both commercial and military usage? What do you think?
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