Quadcopter acrobatics like nothing we’ve seen

The University of Pennsylvania has churned out some impressive moves with a quadcopter. Perching on a vertical landing pad with some help from Velcro is impressive, but single and double flips combined with navigating through tight spaces at an angle makes this just amazing. We expect to see it in the next Bond film if it doesn’t show up in one of this summer’s action flicks. Kind of makes previously awesome quadcopters look a bit pedestrian. Video after the break.

[Thanks Ideanator via Engadget]

Comments

  1. Matt Turner says:

    How many of these things do they have? At 41 seconds you can see at least 4 more on the ground!

  2. alankilian says:

    Wow! That’s some impressive control loops in there.

    This guy certainly earned his MSME.

  3. japkin says:

    That is awesome. Now…how do you remove it from the velcro?

  4. Victor says:

    Cool, but requires the 20 camera system. Next task- 3d laser rangefinder so no cameras needed ?

  5. mess_maker says:

    That is a really cool project. I am sure many of us have worked on projects that prototyped with external systems for the sake of proofing your concept. Then you work on making everything internal… that is usually where the serious headaches come in.

    I am very impressed by the speed at which this thing whips around. I look forward to seeing more of this.

    @japkin That was my first thought when I saw the velcro part. :) I wonder if this has enough lift to pull off of it, or if they could use a retractable stand that could push it off of the velcro?

  6. Psyc0bob says:

    The DOD will surly take interest.

  7. Matthew says:

    Where are the full sized ones? I wanna fly to work in one.

  8. Alex says:

    That is really cool
    As Japkin says, it probably can’t escape the velcro. I wonder if they could use an electromagnet instead…

  9. h3po says:

    this is truly amazing.
    i’ve just seen some of the quadcopter drones of the german army these days… they can’t even hover on one point stationally without falling from the sky after 5 minutes xD and imagine the taxpayer pays over 20k€ for one of these useless things!

  10. mark says:

    It must be using variable pitch props, yes? I’m not sure how else you could get that level of control for things like rolls.

  11. Freddie says:

    I’m guessing they did it in a similiar way to http://www.idsc.ethz.ch/Research_DAndrea/Time_Optimal_Flight_Maneuvers – example youtube video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWExDW9J9sA

  12. Ford says:

    Wow, and the post never even mentions that it’s autonomous! Seems like a pretty important piece of information.
    And yes, that 20 camera Vicon system would probably cost close to $1 mil. This will be amazing once they get the system self contained in the quadrotor and it can go wherever it wants.
    Still, awesome work.

  13. Daryl says:

    @Psyc0bob: the Department Of Doodles?

    Very cool demo of control and maneuverability. Looking forward to future versions.

  14. The Ideanator says:

    sweet, same day!

  15. cliff says:

    @ Psyc0bob the one that the dod uses is made by dragonfly. Saw it in Iraq and holy shit it was awesome. on the fly remote thermals/video that only adds 5 pounds or so, and most of that is the controller. if it had a 9mm semi auto pistol on it, it would have been even better :D

    http://www.draganfly.com/uav-helicopter/draganflyer-x6/applications/military.php

  16. Gert says:

    If they get rid of the noise police would have a great tool coming up. Minority Report stuff.

  17. zypher says:

    Very reminiscent of my past encounters with man-hacks. Only I don’t have an smg in rl.

  18. Red says:

    The only issue with internalizing the cameras is the processing power required to sort through all the data.

    I’d be interested in what they use now and how much it actually requires, long way to go before these things can lift the processors needed for that much image processing.

  19. nicco says:

    i wonder if they could achieve similar effects with a tilt-rotor design. they could fly the buggers at various angles without having to dive so low every time.

  20. magetoo says:

    cliff:

    if it had a 9mm semi auto pistol on it, it would have been even better :D

    Yeah, and that’s all fine until you consider that your comments might have thrown a fellow hackaday reader (with a modest $400 budget) into a murderous quadcopter-building rage and you live in the same area.

    Why must people always jump from “Great work!” to “…and now let’s kill people!” with these things? Is it something they put in the water?

  21. magetoo says:

    And I’m sorry about the rant. I know the comment I was replying to wasn’t strictly about quadcopters like this particular one, but it’s still disturbing how quickly people bring up military applications, IMHO.

    This is still very, very cool, obviously. Search-and-rescue, anyone?

  22. cliff says:

    magetoo, I’m military, the job of the military, to put it in short terms, is to kill people and break their shit. everything else is a bonus, to give us something to do when we aren’t killing people or breaking their shit. For the purpose that I saw it used it was an awesome platform for recon, but being military, if something is awesome without a weapon on it, it is usually fucking awesome with one on it.

    /from a dude who’s job it is to kill people and break shit

  23. magetoo says:

    cliff:
    Yes, I’m not under any illusions as to what the job involves. That still doesn’t mean I have to like it when someone brings up the topic of new and interesting ways to kill people though.

    (And not to repeat myself, but “killing people and breaking shit” is the job description that the guys on the opposing side have too. You can probably imagine that given this tech, it won’t be used to deliver flowers.)

  24. nicco says:

    @magetoo
    thats right, you don’t have to like it. “killing people and breaking shit” is NOT the job description of the guys on the opposing side, it is “kill everything i don’t like.” that includes the “home-grown” as well. i am sorry to be so brusk, but while you might be all for giving a hug, “they” would prefer it, as it means you will be closer to the explosive charge they wear on their vest. i have been there. i have seen it. “they” want us dead just as much, if not more, than we want to kill them. aside from that, this is some awesome tech. it can be used for all sorts of things, like looking for survivors of natural disasters, or amazing shots of a football game, or (when queit enough) for looking into natural settings disturbed by mans presence, or, maybe, even bad guys hiding in a building.

  25. nicco says:

    edit: sorry “quiet”

  26. Lee says:

    I just hope the machines don’t take it for themselves ‘judgement day’ style… It looks truly awesome.

  27. zeropointmodule says:

    rofl re. comments Lee … :-)

    interestingly i was just working on repairing someone’s model heli (snapped rear rotor mounting, repaired with Polymorph and now flies fine)

    the interesting thing is that a basic control system can be kludged together using two 3 axis accelerometers, two gyros and some sort of altimeter (perhaps salvaged from a $2 tyre pressure gauge)

  28. zws1922 says:

    Manhacks!!!

    very impressive

  29. magetoo says:

    nicco:
    You’re not brusque at all. But I see we’re looking at things from completely different perspectives (“people are the same everywhere” vs. “us and them”) so let’s call it a fundamental disagreement and leave it at that.

    At least we can agree that quads, and this level of control, open up a lot of interesting possibilities, good and bad.

  30. Jeremie says:

    You guys should really add a quadrotor tag, there’s a bunch of them lately kinda like the POV stuff a couple months ago…

  31. Rob says:

    And now I have reinstall HL2, HL2:EP1 and HL2:EP2.

    Thanks, HAD.

  32. JB says:

    @magetoo: It is called “human nature”. Look up our history as a species. Full of violence since the beginning. Sad, but it is reality.

    For every new idea you will have non-violent applications and also the military applications. Personally, I rather have this weaponized by “us” rather than “them”.

  33. cj says:

    Sorry for falling in w/ the thread hijackers here, but this ‘man always fights’ mentality bugs me.

    “All of our present data indicate that fighting behavior among higher mammals, including man, originates in external stimulation and that there is no evidence of spontaneous internal stimulation.”
    -John Paul Scott

    The fact is, we do NOT act aggressively by default, or we’d have no cohesion at all. The rest is just after the fact justification for aberrant behaviour.

  34. nicco says:

    sorry for the late return, but…

    cj,
    that point is moot. it doesn’t matter where or why we are aggressive. aggression not being our default does not mean we are not aggressive at all. people originally banded together for strength in numbers. this was for protection against hostile elements and other people. we might not be naturally violent, but we aren’t naturally nice either.

  35. bzroom says:

    I dont think the cameras are used for tracking the robot at all. It looks like they are used to track the environment props. The computer acquires their new position with the cameras and then can plot trajectories easily.

    It probably also helps obtain the robot’s current position at the start of a maneuver. but i doubt is incorporated in the real time control loop

  36. hcaz says:

    @ bzroom
    The 5 white balls on top of the quadcopter are the fiducial markers tracked by the camera system, so the copter is certainly track to some extent by the camera system. It seems like using the cameras only to sense the initial conditions of the robot and obstacles would lead to many crashes, as small mistakes anywhere in the trajectory due to air currents etc. could have large effects.

  37. DroneGeek says:

    Crazy stuff :)

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