We've seen the agile quadrotors of the Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab (GRITS) fly around in perfect formation (and, uh, less than perfect), play ping-pong and even a little piano. Now, GRITS has a new ensemble to compliment the quadrotor: a group of automated 'bots that come together to offer a place to land.
In the picture above (and in the video below), you can see five hockey puck-like robots on the ground under the hover quadrotor. They aren't just following a set path, however. They're all acting individually, following that leader puck — the one without a square pad atop it — to figure out how best to form a surface for the quadrotor to land.
While both the quadroter system and the landing platform both have a long way to go before they could operate out in the real world, it really makes you think watching stuff like this. Years from now we may not need airbases or pilots or any of that. Just lots and lots of robots.
Georgia Tech grad and GRITS alum Ted MacDonald has more information about how the autonomous swarm-bots make it happen on his blog here, and he gets into the nitty gritty technical details for those interested.