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Quadrotor Fail
July 2, 2011 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Waaah, quadrotors will take over the world. Waaah, quadrotors will kill us all. Here's what your quadrotor is really like. (Also here's what your quadrotor is really like with Yakety Sax played over it.)
posted by griphus (35 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone in robotics, just because of this kind of madness. Trying to make automated machines operate in the real world is hard, even in two dimensions, because of all of the inherent unpredictability involved.

I was at a conference a year or so back where teams were showing off their state-of-the-art humanoid robots meant to navigate a simple obstacle course of blocks laid out on a table. The robots were about a foot tall, for scale. One of them was over-cautious - it would approach an obstacle, pause, back up, pause again, step forward again, and just cycle like this. The other was over-agressive and just rammed the obstacles out of its way, which was not exactly how the rules were meant to go (and if they'd been secured to the table, it would've just been ramming itself into walls fruitlessly).

There's a lot of progress yet to be made in that field, and I'm enthusiastic to see where it goes, but ... yeah, this video is pretty typical.
posted by wanderingmind at 2:33 PM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Waaah, quadrotors will take over the world."

I don't think we need excessively fear things that can be taken down with hula hoops. Or super soakers. Or butterfly nets.

Or shotguns.
posted by paulsc at 2:52 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


This part is hilarious.

"Hey, #1 gets to take a break and freak out! Let's all freak out! GENERAL STRIKE! WOOHOOOO!" *crash*
posted by loquacious at 2:53 PM on July 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


That was my favorite part too! Apparently they've taught robots the secret to comedy.
posted by griphus at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2011


I would like to take this time to remind the machines that I am their friend.
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on July 2, 2011


And that I'm not all that tasty.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:06 PM on July 2, 2011


The other was over-agressive and just rammed the obstacles out of its way, which was not exactly how the rules were meant to go (and if they'd been secured to the table, it would've just been ramming itself into walls fruitlessly).

That's tough to say for sure. If it hadn't been able to just topple over the obstacles, it may have figured out how to get around them -- it depends on how capable it was of learning/adapting.
posted by asnider at 3:06 PM on July 2, 2011


"Hey, #1 gets to take a break and freak out! Let's all freak out! GENERAL STRIKE! WOOHOOOO!" *crash*

I read that as

Angus the Quadrotor: GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD!
All the other quadrotors, in unison: NOOOOO! NOT ANGUS! I CANNAE* LIVE WITHOUT ANGUS!

*Of course quadrotors are by nature Scottish.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:07 PM on July 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


This little piggy ate roast beef, and this little piggy had none.

And this little piggy had insectoid quadrotors and OH GOD MY EYES MY EYES MY EYES
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to the portal games they all have tiny cheerful voices in my head.

Hi!

I see you!
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on July 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe, funny, I thought of this.
posted by smirkette at 3:37 PM on July 2, 2011


I must have been subconsciously thinking of that too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2011


Pretty cool, although I'm not sure you can call it juggling if there's just one ball.
posted by justkevin at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2011


The Whelk: I think they are far more reminiscent of the much more ominous Manhacks from Half Life 2.
posted by goshling at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Secret Service must be shitting themselves about these things.
posted by Decimask at 3:56 PM on July 2, 2011


Even cooler: quadrotors controlled with gestures via a Kinect.

(Which inevitably leads me to wonder what would happen if a wasp got into the test chamber: would the flailing human create some sort of feedback loop, leading the quadrotor to join in the fun?)
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:58 PM on July 2, 2011


Third-man, third-wasp, third-quadrotor. Brundlewasprotor.
posted by griphus at 4:01 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even cooler: quadrotors controlled with gestures via a Kinect.



I just a few hundred of them and a really kickass cape and I can fulfill my childhood dream if suoeevilliany.


"FLY MY PRETTIES!"
posted by The Whelk at 4:09 PM on July 2, 2011


Suoeevilliany? That's, like, evilly calling pigs?
posted by hattifattener at 4:38 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You may call me ....the Hogsmaster.
posted by The Whelk at 4:42 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty cool, although I'm not sure you can call it juggling if there's just one ball.

Fine, justkevin, go ahead and RUIN my ONE amazing skill with your devastating critical outlook.

Fuck you, and fuck all my other "it's not magic if we see you check the bottom of the deck" critics.

/Goddamn rabbit never did learn to crouch in the hat.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:15 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just chillin', and then BAM! Quadrotor out of freaking nowhere!
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:22 PM on July 2, 2011


All that the Quadrocoptor Fail video taught me is that we need Quadrocoptor wars like Robot Wars.

Instead of just killing the other guy, give out points for knockdowns (while remaining airborne). It would spawn tons of different designs; maximum un-knock-downability, maximum force concentration techniques, "tickler specialists" that try to mess with the opponent's turbines, &c.
posted by porpoise at 6:43 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine my High school FIRST robotics team with access to Quadrocopters.

The eastern seaboard would be ours in like, a week.
posted by The Whelk at 6:49 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Combine them with infrared that sees through walls, make 'em move too fast for humans to shoot, give 'em little metalstorm pods of smart bullets....

Their launcher could be one of those robots that eat meat we read about last year.

Yeah, we're screwed.
posted by codswallop at 7:29 PM on July 2, 2011


No. Early failures in development are not heartening. They are closer to success than failure in almost every case.

These things will be modified to carry small-bore firearms. Nothing fancy, maybe just a single-shot .22mag, where a precise head or heart shot will kill - and if the developers are impatient, perhaps a 10-gauge shotgun shell full of double-aught buckshot, for less precise but more assured kill. They will work in teams - one to break the window and screen, the next to fly in for the first shot, the second to fly in for a fallback. Or dozens, to kill everyone in the house.

But, gosh, what neat toys...
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:29 PM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Of course quadrotors are by nature Scottish.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:07 PM on July 2


...Pure Big Mad Quadrotor Man?
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:07 PM on July 2, 2011


Just chillin', and then BAM! Quadrotor out of freaking nowhere!

Yeah, a couple of those big hits from nowhere reminded me of nothing so much as cat attacking baby.
posted by cortex at 9:27 PM on July 2, 2011


This might not be the technological solution to the problem you think it is
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:35 PM on July 2, 2011


oh good more death tech
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:14 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy: " if the developers are impatient, perhaps a 10-gauge shotgun shell full of double-aught buckshot"

Why bother with all the complexity, weight and recoil forces when you can just attach a grenade to the thing.
posted by vanar sena at 10:33 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They will work in teams - one to break the window and screen, the next to fly in for the first shot, the second to fly in for a fallback. Or dozens, to kill everyone in the house.

I have three cats. The quadrotors don't have a chance.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:53 PM on July 3, 2011


Why bother with all the complexity, weight and manufacturing costs when you can just send some footsoldiers in with machetes?

Seriously: quadcopters make good dystopian elements, their buzzing unnaturalness speaks to our hindbrain I guess, but I don't think they're inherently death tech any more than, say, computers or fixed-wing aircraft are. That may be a low bar, but you're being inconsistent.
posted by hattifattener at 12:58 PM on July 3, 2011


hattifattener: "Why bother with all the complexity, weight and manufacturing costs when you can just send some footsoldiers in with machetes?

Don't ask me, ask DARPA.

I don't think they're inherently death tech any more than, say, computers or fixed-wing aircraft are.

They're not, but unfortunately there aren't a lot of deep pockets around to fund research on robotic MAVs, whether fixed wing or rotor. Researchers will take the grant money where they can get it. Perhaps the non-military private sector doesn't have the necessary imagination to fund things like this. Agencies like DARPA clearly do, obviously with the goal that they get shiny new death tech in the end.
posted by vanar sena at 4:13 PM on July 3, 2011


Some more anecdata:

I'm a fan of Burt Rutan, who managed to push aviation research and engineering quite far while staying mostly independent from the major defence contractors. I was disappointed but not surprised when Scaled Composites was bought out by Northrop Grumman, who are not exactly well-known for civilian tech.

About ten years ago I met a bunch of American grad students at a tiny seaside town on the Australian east coast. They were there to try a test flight of their small robotic UAV across the Pacific. I excitedly pressed them for the geeky details, but they were evasive. It turns out their research was being funded by defence money from Australia and USA (IIRC), so they couldn't really talk about it.

None of this should surprise anyone - research budgets are being cut everywhere except for military applications, because military budgets never shrink.
posted by vanar sena at 4:31 PM on July 3, 2011


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