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Autonomous quadrocopters fly in 20-strong formation

February 6, 2012 | Hogan Keyser

February 1, 2012 by Mark Brown via -- The nanobot quadrocopters at the University of Pennsylvania's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (Grasp) laboratory continue to go from strength to terrifying strength.

We've seen the autonomous vehicles flip, roll and even zip through tight windows with impeccable grace. We've seen them sport a pincer-like claw for picking up a payload. If the object is too heavy, multiple machines can work together to offset the weight.

The autonomous micro-helicopters are also adept architects, and can work together to construct complex towers. "We tell the quadrotors what structure´╗┐ to build and they figure out the assembly plan and then build it," said team member, Daniel Mellinger.

In their latest performance, Grasp engineers show how massive groups of quadrocopters can work together in large formations. In the video, 20 of the whirring drones fly in unison, transitioning between formations and avoiding collisions.

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