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Flips, flight through windows, and quadrotor perching.
May 29, 2010 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Aggressive Maneuvers for Autonomous Quadrotor Flight (slyt)
posted by Tom-B (66 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
A little too Minority Report for me. Quite cool, the real test will be how the system can react to actual wind/weather conditions.
posted by meinvt at 6:30 AM on May 29, 2010


This. Is. Awesome.
posted by Phantomx at 6:31 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wire mesh over windows time...
posted by knapah at 6:34 AM on May 29, 2010


Good youtube comments too
posted by doobiedoo at 6:34 AM on May 29, 2010


Very cool.

Would this quadrotor setup be realistically scalable to people-size? ( I need to know if I need to start saving up.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well folks, humanity had a good run...
posted by PenDevil at 6:39 AM on May 29, 2010


I imagine it could possibly be taken to a one-seater type of size, but yikes that'd be a terrifying contraption flying around. Sign me up!

I love the Half Life discussion in the YouTube comments.
posted by Phantomx at 6:47 AM on May 29, 2010


I want to see a four vs six fight.
posted by alby at 6:50 AM on May 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's it, no one will ever be safe again.
Four words: autonomous quad rotor grenades.

Nothing has quite given me the creeps like that little fucker swooping through the window. There's nothing a human could do to defend against that, nothing at all. You hear a vague buzzing and half a second later it's in the room and then it explodes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Who else is imagining swarms of these things 10 times smaller?
posted by odinsdream at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


So you're telling me that hiding in holes when the robots take over is no longer an option? Way to go engineers, way to go.
posted by oddman at 7:02 AM on May 29, 2010


I showed this to Mrs. Intermod and she said "military contract in 3, 2, 1, NOW."
posted by intermod at 7:03 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This should arrive in a big wooden crate. With Acme stenciled on the side.
posted by hal9k at 7:06 AM on May 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nothing has quite given me the creeps like that little fucker swooping through the window. There's nothing a human could do to defend against that, nothing at all.

Didn't you watch the video? They are totally vulnerable to velcro--notice how they never showed the things coming off the "perch" once attached. Velcro will be humanities last line of defense against these killer bots of the future.
posted by reformedjerk at 7:09 AM on May 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't think it would scale to human carrying size ( mumble mumble Reynold's number mumble mumble ) unless you have unlimited compact power and make a *lot* of noise.

Part of the terrifying nature of this thing is the aggressive wasp noise it makes maneuvering. It's a little scary. Even louder and just as weird is the test video of an (anti)satelite maneuvering system - a ball with rocket ports all over it - that hovered and darted side to size making a godawful racket. Can't find it at the moment.
posted by sea at 7:10 AM on May 29, 2010


Part of the terrifying nature of this thing is the aggressive wasp noise it makes maneuvering. It's a little scary. Even louder and just as weird is the test video of an (anti)satelite maneuvering system - a ball with rocket ports all over it - that hovered and darted side to size making a godawful racket. Can't find it at the moment.

I've seen that as well, can't find it either. It made a terrible noise.
posted by knapah at 7:16 AM on May 29, 2010


Who else is imagining swarms of these things 10 times smaller?
Who else is imagining swarms of these things 10 times bigger?

Maybe we should hold off on showing the robots all the cool things they could build to use to hunt us down...
posted by From Bklyn at 7:17 AM on May 29, 2010


That was pretty neat but wth was with the velcro? Was there some reason they thought a four-bladed vehicle wouldn't stick?
posted by dobbs at 7:18 AM on May 29, 2010


I wish this post contained more links on the research. Here's the GRASP lab. Researchers' home pages: Daniel Mellinger, Nathan Michael, Vijay Kumar. What I can't find is a paper from this group. I'm particularly curious about the vision system; it's pretty impressive that it finds the hole to fly through. There's a 2005 paper that looks like related work. Of the numerous sites that have picked up the video, geek.com has the most info.
posted by Nelson at 7:18 AM on May 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Remember, citizens, these will be scaled down to insect size. And have cameras, microphones, etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:23 AM on May 29, 2010


That's it, no one will ever be safe again.
Four words: autonomous quad rotor grenades.


You already aren't "safe" by that definition.
Two words: Nuclear bomb.

The way to keep autonomous grenades from flying in your window isn't bar your windows. It's to get along with your neighbors.

I thought about post this video last night. But it's actually a little less impressive than it looks because it needs 20 external cameras to determine the position that accurately. If your neighbor wants to grenade your house with one, I think you'll be tipped off by the workmen installing the cameras the day before.

Call me when it's self-contained.
posted by DU at 7:25 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe this is only one of two posts with the "iforonewelcomeournewoverlords" tag, I was looking forward to a whole collection of metafiltered submission fantasies.
posted by doobiedoo at 7:26 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are the cameras external, DU? That would explain a lot. Did you find a reference that described it?
posted by Nelson at 7:27 AM on May 29, 2010


This reminded me uncomfortably of Half Life 2's Manhacks. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to purchase a shotgun.
posted by JDHarper at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2010


Nothing that a 20 gauge full of birdshot wouldn't solve.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:37 AM on May 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you'll excuse me, I'm off to purchase a shotgun.

Yeah, if I was there I would smack it with a crowbar before it goes though the hole, I'd say "rejected!", and then make some comment about "fishnet room stockings."
posted by fuq at 7:41 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can already get hobby ones for under $100, although they don't go vertically etc...
posted by Spacelegoman at 7:41 AM on May 29, 2010


The way to keep autonomous grenades from flying in your window isn't bar your windows. It's to get along with EX-TER-MIN-ATE your neighbors.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:41 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nothing that a 20 gauge full of birdshot wouldn't solve.

Even better if you mount a small 20-gague shotgun on your own quad copters, an just had them hunt the other ones down. Or just have a 'posse' of these armed versions escorting you about 5-10 feet over your head for protection.
posted by chambers at 7:49 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I've learned anything from half life its that you just need to keep a crowbar handy.
posted by empath at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2010


It's to get along with your neighbors.

But what if your neighbours misplaced their oil under your sand?
posted by pompomtom at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


> I want to see a four vs six fight

Now all that needs to be done is to combine the hexacopter with the flying guillotine.
posted by Decimask at 7:55 AM on May 29, 2010


I'd worry a bit more about these in the hands of non-state actors. If the Tamil Tigers were still tearing up the pea-patch, they'd have them by now.
posted by warbaby at 7:58 AM on May 29, 2010


There's nothing a human could do to defend against that, nothing at all. You hear a vague buzzing and half a second later it's in the room and then it explodes.

How many military installations have open windows?

No, what's gets deadly is when there are several of them, and one (or a couple) of them figures out it can blow itself up, leaving a hole in the wall for the others to get through.

If it's a high tech vs low tech situation, as a low tech group what do you do? Put women and children in the windows, with a video camera on them. If the rotocopters blow up, guess what's going to be on the 24/7 news cycle? Or close the windows. Or leave them open as honey trap to figure out what the high tech army is up to.

But the tech isn't even really there yet to make these things deadly. Skynet can't even lift its head. Yet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on May 29, 2010


for example
posted by warbaby at 8:04 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


in my head the sountrack to the end of the world isn't screaming or maniacal laughter, but the slow nasly cadence of a tech nerd narrating a demonstration.
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 AM on May 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who says the Department of Homeland Security has these huge quadrotors and everyone is going to have to start wearing these big velcro patches on the top of their heads all the time.
posted by digsrus at 8:13 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


warbaby: "for example"

I think there's a leak between the Second Life universe and our own somewhere in Russia.
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are the cameras external, DU? That would explain a lot. Did you find a reference that described it?

I thought they said it in the video, but apparently not. And I can't find this project on the GRASP lab page. SCRUBBED BY THE CIA???

But really, are they going to fit 20 cameras on a device that small? Even if they could, they wouldn't do that with a crashing prototype.
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on May 29, 2010


in my head the sountrack to the end of the world isn't screaming or maniacal laughter, but the slow nasly cadence of a tech nerd narrating a demonstration.

That one is actually kind of cute. This one is evil.
posted by stavrogin at 8:37 AM on May 29, 2010


This one is evil.

Little Dog scares the crap out of me a whole lot more than Big Dog.
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could use a team of these to pull-off some ridiculously awesome heists. One could have a butane torch attached. A couple could provide the eyes and ears for lookout. You'd use a larger, 6-rotor (or maybe 8-?) to hoist/carry the loot. All remotely operated from, say, a van parked in a parking lot a few hundred feet away.

So many ideas.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:43 AM on May 29, 2010


I don't it would be physically possible to let loose a whole squadron of these and not scream "FLY MY PRETTIES! FLY!"
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, didn't I just fight off a bunch of those in Half-Life 2? What's next, headcrabs? If they're going to make these things then I demand a real gravity gun.
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on May 29, 2010


empath: "If I've learned anything from half life its that you just need to keep a crowbar handy."

My thoughts exactly. That or a gravity gun.
posted by brundlefly at 9:04 AM on May 29, 2010


Oops. Jinx.
posted by brundlefly at 9:05 AM on May 29, 2010


You can *see* the cameras in the video, they're on the walls behind the net, each one has a huge red light next to it, and the copter thingy has lots of reflective spots.

As soon as it leaves the area covered by the cameras, it wouldn't work.
posted by Mwongozi at 9:18 AM on May 29, 2010


i'm with DU - this isn't more threatening than a squad of thugs with ak-47s, or one person waiting outside my apartment with a handgun.
posted by camdan at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2010


Metafilter: more threatening than a squad of thugs with ak-47s.
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 AM on May 29, 2010



Little Dog scares the crap out of me a whole lot more than Big Dog.


Hate to tell you but Little Dog has been upgraded. The wee dude moves, now.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:53 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hate to tell you but Little Dog has been upgraded . The wee dude moves, now.

They really need to put this kind of work before an Ethics Board.
posted by knapah at 10:02 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hate to tell you but Little Dog has been upgraded . The wee dude moves, now.

They really need to put this kind of work before an Ethics Board..


I draw the line at the handle.
posted by mullacc at 10:12 AM on May 29, 2010


*grabby hands*

Fuck this shit, I'm going back to grad school. I am sick and goddamn tired of all the other engineers having all the fun.
posted by elizardbits at 11:29 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The last fucking thing the military needs is manhacks.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:30 PM on May 29, 2010


Part of the terrifying nature of this thing is the aggressive wasp noise it makes maneuvering. It's a little scary. Even louder and just as weird is the test video of an (anti)satelite maneuvering system - a ball with rocket ports all over it - that hovered and darted side to size making a godawful racket. Can't find it at the moment.

You're thinking of the reassuringly-named Multiple Kill Vehicle.

I thought about post this video last night. But it's actually a little less impressive than it looks because it needs 20 external cameras to determine the position that accurately.

If you look at this video you'll notice it also has those bright orange-red lights around the room. That's a Vicon MX vision system, similar to the one used here. You'll note the little white spheres attached to the actor. If you go back and look at the original video, you'll note the quadrotor has several of those white spheres attached.

This makes sense, because when you've got two unsolved problems (how to fly given a known position, and how to sense your position while flying) it makes more sense to try to solve them one at a time, rather than to try to solve them both at once!

That said, there are some impressive demos of object/camera position tracking with moving cameras, and these quadrotors can lift about a kilo of cameras and computers.

It's all experimental technology, though, and it'll be a while yet before you see things like this flying around obstacles quickly and autonomously!
posted by Mike1024 at 12:49 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


intermod: I showed this to Mrs. Intermod and she said "military contract in 3, 2, 1, NOW."

Forget future contracts, it was probably developed with military funding from the start.

Heh.. Forget probably--Military-Academic Complex:
As a result, [the GRASP lab] is an on-campus favorite of the Pentagon, which is currently working to replace a large swath of U.S. military personnel with robots and drones.
Benny Andajetz: Would this quadrotor setup be realistically scalable to people-size?

No.

Phantomx: I imagine it could possibly be taken to a one-seater type of size, but yikes that'd be a terrifying contraption flying around. Sign me up!

Did you see how hard that thing smacks into the velcro? Also, going through the window seems to be a pretty high G manoeuvre.

Nelson: I'm particularly curious about the vision system; it's pretty impressive that it finds the hole to fly through.

Ya, vision is probably the hardest problem they face. That and the all-round tasks like getting all the projects to play nice together--I'll call that system integration--and finding money to build the thing in the first place--just an ethical problem, admittedly, but still.

DU: Call me when it's self-contained.

While it will never get big enough for human scale, I bet making it self contained is within the realm of possibility.
posted by Chuckles at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2010


Mosquitos can do the "navigate a complex world, fly through a window, find something and destroy it" with a few dozen micrograms of brain matter and a couple of kilopixel wide angle cameras. I reckon, though, that Nate Myhrvold and his mosquito-tracking-laser-cannon have got a few dollars from the Pentagon, too.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:23 PM on May 29, 2010


W/r/t getting it self-contained, I suppose you could put a minimum number of cameras on one (say, I dunno, 3? 4?), and just send 'em out in swarms, so they all act as spotters for each other, and share the calculation load. Send 'em out in groups of ten.

Yeah, I'm ending the world. Sue me.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:29 PM on May 29, 2010


all-round tasks like getting all the projects to play nice together--I'll call that system integration-- I'll call that Skynet, but hey, were just talkin' semantics now, huh?
posted by From Bklyn at 2:40 PM on May 29, 2010


alby: "I want to see a four vs six fight."

The only real reason to go from four to six is redundancy - a six may still be able to fly if 1, 2, or 3 rotors fail or are damaged (though the control algorithms would have to know about which rotors are functional).

Actually for this type of flight you only need a tri rotor.

I'm not sure why quad rotors seem to be more popular than tri other than people tend to like 90º angles.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:45 PM on May 29, 2010


MSN: I think the rotor torques are easier to balance on a quadrotor. Leastaways that's the impression I've gotten for why quadrotor designs are so popular.

sea: Also mumble mumble rotational inertia maybe? This thing can fly as nimbly as it does because it can change the rotors' speeds very very quickly, and that won't be as easy with larger-diameter rotors. OTOH, since these tend to be powered by a single electric motor on each fan with no complicated helicopter-style linkages, maybe it'd be practical to simply have, say, sixteen four-foot rotors on a big frame. Hm.
posted by hattifattener at 3:20 PM on May 29, 2010


I'm not sure why quad rotors seem to be more popular than tri other than people tend to like 90º angles.

Quadrotors and hexrotors, which have an even number of rotors, have half of the rotors turning clockwise and half turning anticlockwise, so the torque effects on the body cancel out. That's why helicopters with 2, 4, or 6 rotors don't need a tail rotor.

This doesn't work with an uneven number of rotors (e.g. 3). Some trirotors get around this by having one rotor on a servo so it can be tilted like a conventional helicopter's tail rotor - but that means another servo to control - when a key benefit of quadrotors vs. conventional helicopters is supposed to be the fact you don't need complicated blade-tilting linkages!
posted by Mike1024 at 3:32 PM on May 29, 2010


I think the rotor torques are easier to balance on a quadrotor.

After further thought, one advantage of a even number of rotors is that they can all be given full power and maintain a fixed attitude, which would not be possible with an odd number of rotors.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:42 PM on May 29, 2010


US Dept of Defense wants autonomous robot army by 2034

posted by T.D. Strange at 4:03 PM on May 29, 2010


Why isn't there BattleBots for this? I'd love to see autonomous quadrotor race/fights (that sounds wrong...) through some kind of obstacle course.

I always disliked that BattleBots was actually BattleNerdsWithRemoteControls... make these things fight for my pleasure!
posted by gribbly at 4:37 PM on May 30, 2010


Why isn't there BattleBots for this?

A basic quadrotor costs over a thousand dollars, and would need several thousand dollars worth of sensors and processors to operate autonomously. It would also need software that doesn't yet exist. You might be able to find a university lab that could get one working, but if you just have to ship a few scientists across the country to operate it, it'll cost a few thousand dollars in hotels and plane tickets. To get two quadrotors fight could easily cost $30,000.

Two quadrotors could collide with the complete destruction of both robots, probably in less than a second.

Bottom line, it would make for expensive television.
posted by Mike1024 at 5:55 PM on May 30, 2010


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