Here’s the latest anxiety-inducing development for those who fear the coming robot insurrection: Researchers at ETH in Zurich developed a fleet of flying robots that can attach to one another and fly in almost any formation imaginable. The individual robots fly using a single propeller, and according to ETH researchers, one of these robots by itself “is erratic and uncontrolled” in the air. But combine the robots and attach them to one another, and they work in concert in order to achieve more stable flight.
The robots actually exchange information when attached to one another, which allows them to work together and determine how to control the thrust to keep the robot in the air without buzzing around like a drunken mosquito.
And the bot swarm can adapt to changing conditions. According to ETH, “If the array’s leveled flight is disturbed, each vehicle individually determines the amount of thrust required to correct for the disturbance based on its position in the array and the array’s motion.” In other words, if something throws the bot array off balance, for example, the bots can make the necessary adjustments to keep the veritable Megazord in flight.
Research in robots that can coordinate with each other has been ongoing for years. This project from ETH has been in the works since 2008. Another group toyed with ground-based self-assembling robots that work in tandem with flying drones to carry out tasks. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania has been experimenting with quadrocopters that fly in formation and work with each other, though they don’t attach to one another.
I’m not saying it’s time to start preparing for the robot apocalypse, but… oh, who am I kidding? Of course it’s time to start preparing for the robot apocalypse.
[ETH via Motherboard]