More Autonomous Quadcopters!

Watch these quadcopters work together to build structures!

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Everytime we post about quadcopters (or quadrotors or quadrocopter - what have you), we inevitably get some comments about the uprising of the robots and a reference or two to Terminator. Well, I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords - especially if they are going to be able to build me some cool stuff.

Check out those quadcopters! This project from GRASP Labs at the University of Pennsylvania shows how swarms of quadcopters can work together to build structures of various sizes. Right now, yeah, it's pretty basic grids and cubes, but you can just imagine the possibilities for the future. Best of all, it is all done autonomously. If these things enter in our AVC, I have a feeling they might take home the grand prize. Pretty amazing stuff!

Comments 33 comments

  • Dia / about 14 years ago / 3

    The important thing is that I can still beat it at Jenga. (So far)

  • scharkalvin / about 14 years ago / 2

    They remind me of the Stargate replicators.

  • pursang360 / about 14 years ago / 2

    Here is another cool video of a quadcopter from Ascending Technologies and Lasermotive demonstrating power beaming technology. In the end, the quadcopter has a sustained flight time of over 12 hours WOW!

  • Member #41509 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Anyone done gyro stability in Micro .NET on a Fex Panda II ?

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

  • TheRobberDotCom / about 13 years ago / 1

    Even the Australian fire brigade is using them now!

  • Kibby / about 14 years ago / 1

    Anyone know what the "X" is on top of just one of the quadcopters?

  • blarsen / about 14 years ago / 1


  • tmassey / about 14 years ago / 1

    Ok this is exciting. so besides the video control. Resolving that issue not needing video.
    So my wife has been pestering me to build something useful for her. My son keeps telling me he wants to build a robot. My response to him is what is it going to do. He says pick up my toys. I go hmm thats going to be difficult. My wife says make one that does laundry. I go how do I keep it from getting wet.
    This brings together some ideas how to accomplish both of those real life problems my son and wife keep asking me to solve. I see some real possibilities. I never though of a flying robot doing these things. My question is how heavy are those beams?

    • Member #81851 / about 14 years ago / 1

      The laundry robots have already been created. They are called, interestingly enough, a "washing machine" and a "dryer". You can pick one up a local retailer. Many are quite hackable, too!

  • Jaycorobotics / about 14 years ago / 1

    Awesome, I can't wait to finish the micro version of my quadrotor with my free day winnings

  • Jon15 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Well, when you get a full truth system it makes things much more manageable.
    I love my little auroquad... Building one at university of dayton with AFRL CRPD.

  • Batist / about 14 years ago / 1

    Any idea on what quadcopters they use? I guess they are heavily modifiable? Do I smell a beagleboard?

  • Member #197575 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Busy little bees...

  • madsci1016 / about 14 years ago / 1

    I'll argue this isn't "Autonomous Quadcopters", these are Autonomous remote controlled Quadcopters.
    Keep in mind, this is in a movie studio quality motion capture room with dozens of expensive tracking cameras. Processing is done OFF the copters.
    I'll really be impressed when motion tracking and processing like this is done on-board the 'Autonomous' copter.
    I work for the Navy building Unmanned (autonomous) robots, these videos have been passed around the office a few times. But never taking very seriously because it has zero practicality outside of a very controlled environment.
    Don't get me wrong, it's cool stuff and I'm sure hard work, but way more 'neat' then anything else.
    FYI, you can see some of the stuff I do at work @

    • Py / about 14 years ago / 1

      I agree, as someone working on a "real" autonomous quadrotor. None of these quadrotors using external camera localisation are very impressive to me, as they completely eliminate the actual HARD part of controlling an indoor aerial vehicle - localising it with onboard sensors.
      As for the construction - great, a sequence of pre-programmed moves that just happen to be done with helicopters. Same as the piano playing one. An interesting demo, but that's all.
      Any of these things done with only internal sensors and processing though, that would be impressive.

  • How scalable are quadcopters? Could these be built up to handle actual building materials (2x4's, cinder blocks)?
    How about in low atmosphere, like sending some of these off to build Mars structures? I don't think the latter would work, but I don't know if there is enough of an atmosphere on Mars for a copter type device.
    Obviously, I need to brush up on my aerodynamics.

    • MikeGrusin / about 14 years ago / 2

      Atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 1% of that on Earth, so it's tough to do aircraft there, particularly for cargo applications. However there are some neat proposals for exploring large areas using aerial robots.

      • Ben121 / about 14 years ago / 1

        OK, so you raise an interesting point.
        In a reduced atmosphere, drag would be equally reduced, the lift equation would still work, the ideal airfoil shape would be deeper, larger, lighter and faster - but all in all it would benefit from the gravity advantage with minimal consequence from the flight dynamic shifts. I've seen airfoil plans for mars - just think large scale butterfly and you're close.

      • True, but the gravity is 1/3 that of Earth. Still it probably is unlikely to get enough upward thrust.
        @madsci1016: Are/were you involved with the AUVC?

        • madsci1016 / about 14 years ago / 1

          I would have loved to have been, but no, I was not. I work @ a base in Florida, kinda far from California. I do know they people that run it though.
          But I am trying to start a local division of SeaPerch

          which is like AUVSI's AUVC but at the middle & high school level, and not Autonomous. But you have to start somewhere.

          • That's good to hear. The competition does get groups from all over, though, like India, Japan, Northern Canada. I think they even have teams from Florida. Don't recall.
            @Ben121: Thanks! Now I don't feel like it was such a ridiculous idea, and that it may even be possible. Sweet!

  • Hammer_Time / about 14 years ago / 1

    Open Source
    LPC2148 and ATmega644P and 328P based PCB

    • Member #17639 / about 14 years ago / 1

      guess where the main components can be purchased;)

  • Kodox / about 14 years ago / 1

    whoa!!! is it fully programmed ? nice

  • Yvan256 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Never mind the quadcopters, what about those magnetic building blocs?
    Actually, never mind those magnetic building blocs, when will Sparkfun have multi-pin magnetic connectors?

  • abey / about 14 years ago / 1

    Hehe, they'd have to install quite a massive array of Vicon cameras around the building to entre the AVC with these quads...

  • Bunk / about 14 years ago / 1

    I want one!

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