We've seen tiny quadrocopters executing elaborate flying routines, moving in precise formations, and even playing ping pong, but a new video reveals yet another example of stunning robotic nimbleness that is, frankly, a bit scary.
Previously, teams at the ETH Flying Machine Arena have managed to get quadrocopters to balance a pole and juggle balls, but a new demonstration combines the two acts, showing the flying machines throwing and balancing a pole with stunning precision. The development was led by Zurich-based engineer Dario Brescianini who, along with his colleagues, developed a 2D mathematical model to achieve the amazing feat.
Describing the hurdles presented by the new mid-air balancing act Brescianini said, "The biggest challenge to get the system running was the catching part. We tried various catching maneuvers, but none of them worked until we introduced a learning algorithm, which adapts parameters of the catching trajectory to eliminate systematic errors."
Extrapolating forward, it's pretty easy to imagine larger versions of these devices one day acting as emergency rescue mechanisms, throwing and catching people trapped in burning buildings and other precarious aerial situations.
You can see the pole acrobatics of the quadrocopters in the video below.