Amazing Quadcopters

An impressive quadcopter from the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania!

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Simply put, quadcopters are awesome. They are incredibly stable, fast, and are super fun (if difficult) to fly. A few of us around SparkFun have recently gotten into quadcopters and the following videos circulated around the office email. It's kinda cool here at SparkFun because it's not just the engineers who are into "techy" stuff - everyone seems to enjoy a little bit o' the geek.

This project from Daniel Mellinger, Nathan Michael, and Vijay Kumar from the GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception) Lab at the University of Pennsylvania is an awesome example of why quadcopters are taking off (ha!). Check out the awesome maneuvers this thing can do!

Did I mention yet that this thing is autonomous? Though I'm pretty sure if any human attempted to fly through hoops like that thing does, it would not end well. Props to all the folks from the GRASP Lab - outstanding work!

Comments 41 comments

  • benuk / about 14 years ago / 2

    If its of any interest, here is my Octocopter, built with pretty much entirely sparkfun sourced components..

  • R0B0T1CS / about 14 years ago / 2

    Best product I've seen yet. I wonder how much more weight it could handle...

    • CaptainKirk / about 14 years ago / 1

      I have a Parrot drone. It's pretty cool, and an inspiration to work on a DIY. As far as payload, they official word is none. Any load will affect the dynamics and may cause instability.
      That said, you can get lower weight batteries that will power it and I'm thinking the difference might allow a decent solid state video camera, as I've not yet discovered how to capture the video it streams to my iPod.

  • jdesbonnet / about 14 years ago / 2

    Is anyone making open hardware kits for these? If someone sold an entire kit (structure, motor, battery, controllers, wireless rx/tx, camera, GPS, IMU etc) and a reference design I'd probably buy it. The Parrot AR.Done looks nice, but I am put off by the lack of Android support. And I'd prefer to make my own.

  • Nakor / about 14 years ago / 2

    Ok so that covers my landing computer and emergency takeover, so where is my flying car? Seriously. It's 2010.

  •'s awesome..
    the quadcopters looks like alive!!!

  • SomeGuy123 / about 14 years ago / 1

    The link to the Hindenburg picture was rather tasteless.
    Thats like the equivalent of posting pictures of the world trade centers falling down, or a pile of dead victims of genocide wars.

  • Goncalo / about 14 years ago / 1

    I posted before I read... it looks someone already talk about it... sorry.

  • Goncalo / about 14 years ago / 1

    Hi guys... you should check this quadrotor:
    It is pretty cool, and people can develop games for it.

  • Mikro / about 14 years ago / 1

    Guess what? We have a DIY open source project called the AeroQuad, mostly built from SparkFun parts! Check us out at It's been a lot of fun learning and coding how to make these cool machines fly. We also have a great on-line community to share new ideas... and to figure out how to get them implemented. Please check us out! We are about to release heading hold and altitude hold capabilities within the next month or two!

  • rxn / about 14 years ago / 1

    These are amazing. It's only a matter of time before they can make these operate on their own with the kind of power that we're seeing in the processors of modern smartphones, and getting its position data from better IMU's + GPS. Don't forget that landing-on-powerlines charging system.
    Manhacks here we come!

  • Recently I started building a Quadcopter.
    Here's a block diagram containing all sensors, motors, batteries, etc.:

  • x3n0x / about 14 years ago / 1

    There are a lot of open source and inexpensive ways to do this for anybody who has a little electronics knowledge and some ambition. If you have some RC experience, that is a plus, as quad-copters are not the easiest things to fly! Check out this link:
    That will give you pretty much all the info you need to build one of your own. There are even links to sites that supply frame kits and pre-built electronics packages.

  • Snacks / about 14 years ago / 1

    Mind = blown

  • BricoGeek / about 14 years ago / 1

    Here is my Hexacopter (Mikrokopter based) doing Areal Video after only 3 hours of fly practice:
    Here is explanation and details:

  • jandirks / about 14 years ago / 1

    I am working on a quadcopter based on Wii Motion Plus, a Wii Nunchuck and a Teensy++ 2.0 (Arduino Nano can also be used).
    A cheap wooden frame and about $ 100-50 in components gets you started.
    If you want to start cheap, you could follow this thread:

  • Codeman / about 14 years ago / 1

    I built one from scratch!
    With Sparkfun parts ofcourse :)
    Regards Niklas from Sweden

  • when i saw this i took a double take, thinking that i had accidentally gone to ! :)

  • littleRAWR / about 14 years ago / 1

    The quadcopters GRASP Labs uses are custom built by a small German company called Ascending Technologies and cost a couple thousand USD. They outlet to small distributors but are willing to work directly with serious buyers. Considering you basically get a flying netbook, it's not a bad deal.

  • ohhhh snap.

  • ajcrm125 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Hmmmm.. where have I seen this before?
    Oh yeah:

  • Striker121 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Oh god, I swear this is how skynet UAV swarms begin...Epic stuff though!

  • STGE / about 14 years ago / 1

    Not autonomous, and not hard to do from a controls standpoint since the vicon tracking system has mm accuracy (its the same system that records 3d animation with infrared cameras and the silver balls, All you have to do is build a path for the robot to follow and it will follow it... What would really be impressive is if they did this with onboard sensors...

  • THOK / about 14 years ago / 1

    If you're actually interested in hacking it, the AR.Drone has a devkit and API guide - it's mostly AT commands underneath :-) I haven't tried adding additional sensors to it yet, but I think it's worth a look.

  • ExplodingLemur / about 14 years ago / 1

    When will we be seeing the Ardupilot/Sparkfun quadrotor kit? :)

  • EricM / about 14 years ago / 1

    If you go just past the 27:00 mark on this video, you can see my SparkFun powered quadcopter from Maker Faire Detroit.

  • Allan2 / about 14 years ago / 1

    As cool as it looks, keep in mind they have an external computer doing all the vision and controlling the quadcopter. The red lights are necessary for their vision system which is done externally.

  • russpatterson / about 14 years ago / 1

    If only George Orwell was here to see this. Seriously, I hope these guys never saw Robocop.

  • sgrace / about 14 years ago / 1

    Who wants to be that they are SFE customers?

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