Meet the dazzling flying machines of the future | Raffaello D’Andrea

Meet the dazzling flying machines of the future | Raffaello D’Andrea

What started as a platform for hobbyists is poised to become
a multibillion-dollar industry. Inspection, environmental monitoring,
photography and film and journalism: these are some of the potential
applications for commercial drones, and their enablers
are the capabilities being developed at research facilities around the world. For example, before aerial
package delivery entered our social consciousness, an autonomous fleet of flying machines
built a six-meter-tall tower composed of 1,500 bricks in front of a live audience
at the FRAC Centre in France, and several years ago,
they started to fly with ropes. By tethering flying machines, they can achieve high speeds
and accelerations in very tight spaces. They can also autonomously build
tensile structures. Skills learned include how to carry loads, how to cope with disturbances, and in general, how to interact
with the physical world. Today we want to show you some
new projects that we’ve been working on. Their aim is to push the boundary
of what can be achieved with autonomous flight. Now, for a system to function
autonomously, it must collectively know the location
of its mobile objects in space. Back at our lab at ETH Zurich, we often use external cameras
to locate objects, which then allows us to focus our efforts on the rapid development
of highly dynamic tasks. For the demos you will see today, however, we will use new localization technology
developed by Verity Studios, a spin-off from our lab. There are no external cameras. Each flying machine uses onboard sensors
to determine its location in space and onboard computation
to determine what its actions should be. The only external commands
are high-level ones such as “take off” and “land.” This is a so-called tail-sitter. It’s an aircraft that tries
to have its cake and eat it. Like other fixed-wing aircraft,
it is efficient in forward flight, much more so than helicopters
and variations thereof. Unlike most other
fixed-wing aircraft, however, it is capable of hovering, which has huge advantages
for takeoff, landing and general versatility. There is no free lunch, unfortunately. One of the limitations with tail-sitters is that they’re susceptible
to disturbances such as wind gusts. We’re developing new control
architectures and algorithms that address this limitation. The idea is for the aircraft to recover no matter what state it finds itself in, and through practice,
improve its performance over time. (Applause) OK. When doing research, we often ask ourselves
fundamental abstract questions that try to get at the heart of a matter. For example, one such question would be, what is the minimum number of moving parts
needed for controlled flight? Now, there are practical reasons why you may want to know
the answer to such a question. Helicopters, for example, are affectionately known
as machines with a thousand moving parts all conspiring to do you bodily harm. It turns out that decades ago, skilled pilots were able to fly
remote-controlled aircraft that had only two moving parts: a propeller and a tail rudder. We recently discovered
that it could be done with just one. This is the monospinner, the world’s mechanically simplest
controllable flying machine, invented just a few months ago. It has only one moving part, a propeller. It has no flaps, no hinges, no ailerons, no other actuators,
no other control surfaces, just a simple propeller. Even though it’s mechanically simple, there’s a lot going on
in its little electronic brain to allow it to fly in a stable fashion
and to move anywhere it wants in space. Even so, it doesn’t yet have the sophisticated algorithms
of the tail-sitter, which means that in order
to get it to fly, I have to throw it just right. And because the probability
of me throwing it just right is very low, given everybody watching me, what we’re going to do instead is show you a video
that we shot last night. (Laughter) (Applause) If the monospinner
is an exercise in frugality, this machine here, the omnicopter,
with its eight propellers, is an exercise in excess. What can you do with all this surplus? The thing to notice
is that it is highly symmetric. As a result, it is ambivalent
to orientation. This gives it an extraordinary capability. It can move anywhere it wants in space irrespective of where it is facing and even of how it is rotating. It has its own complexities, mainly having to do
with the interacting flows from its eight propellers. Some of this can be modeled,
while the rest can be learned on the fly. Let’s take a look. (Applause) If flying machines are going
to enter part of our daily lives, they will need to become
extremely safe and reliable. This machine over here is actually two separate
two-propeller flying machines. This one wants to spin clockwise. This other one wants
to spin counterclockwise. When you put them together, they behave like one
high-performance quadrocopter. If anything goes wrong, however — a motor fails, a propeller fails,
electronics, even a battery pack — the machine can still fly,
albeit in a degraded fashion. We’re going to demonstrate this to you now
by disabling one of its halves. (Applause) This last demonstration is an exploration of synthetic swarms. The large number of autonomous,
coordinated entities offers a new palette
for aesthetic expression. We’ve taken commercially available
micro quadcopters, each weighing less
than a slice of bread, by the way, and outfitted them
with our localization technology and custom algorithms. Because each unit
knows where it is in space and is self-controlled, there is really no limit to their number. (Applause) (Applause) (Applause) Hopefully, these demonstrations
will motivate you to dream up new revolutionary roles
for flying machines. That ultrasafe one over there for example has aspirations to become
a flying lampshade on Broadway. (Laughter) The reality is that it is
difficult to predict the impact of nascent technology. And for folks like us, the real reward
is the journey and the act of creation. It’s a continual reminder of how wonderful and magical
the universe we live in is, that it allows creative, clever creatures to sculpt it in such spectacular ways. The fact that this technology has such huge commercial
and economic potential is just icing on the cake. Thank you. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. … and then, we decided to sell that technology to the army so we could develop other stuff and buy ourself condos, and they came up with something very cool called autonomous ultra light laser pistol and then SWWWWWOSHHHH… RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!

  2. Of course, it can have " aesthetic value "most things made is with that value in mine.
    We don't want to be seen in an ugly car,
    that is not the problem…
    This technology has more sides than realized,
    an can be used in ways that will just boggle the mine.
    and just as dangerous.
    We may not have let this gene out of its' bottle!!!.
    But who knows, we may get lucky!

  3. Did you see the sheep in the audience? The last demonstration showed how drones can fly through the mail slot, into your bedroom and shoot a dart through your eyeball, into the brain, then fly to the neighbors house…..all undetected. CLAP, SHEEP, CLAP

  4. And then there is the truth. These toys he is showing are archaic tech… case in point your cellphone is unclassified military tech years behind current tech. Jobs and Gates invented nada. They just took the gov tech and marketed it once unclassified. Most “folk” have no clue about true reality as they are spoon fed by their tellivisions what to think and believe instead of looking for themselves. But you already knew that. Some still because of their stunted growth still believe what they are told by the propaganda outlets. Ted talks unfortunately are limited by gatekeepers so much reality censored as the controllers are the same as those over FOX and CNN

  5. Wait till you see what those with the American Religion of War do with the nano swarms thatDARPA made. Mechanical mosquitoes that can assinate and more. Red flag laws uh yea. They love you so much.

  6. oh, the last thought… sure, the commercial potentials are just the icing on the cake. LOL.
    they would develop these things even with 0 chance for any kind of profit. Obviously, they would.

  7. There's all these idiots going around in the comments saying how these robots will end up being the death and demise of humanity and how we should stop science and innovation before its too late. Don't listen to them.
    They are a bunch of ignorant fools who have not the smallest clue about what technology actually does. They just watch some dumb blockbuster science fiction movie and think they are so clever in predicting the end of the world will be through technology. Well, let me ask you this:
    What would the world be without
    Artificial Light
    the list could go on and on

    The drones shown in this video are just the next item about to be added onto this endless list.
    I encourage all of you reading this comment to wonder upon the possibilites and benefits that technology such as this could bring, instead of dwelling upon some nonexistent, ficticious fantasy that these drones will somehow cause the apocalypse.

    The only ones who are successful in this world are those who see the opportunities in new things, instead of trying to bury their heads in the sand and shut them down.

    Dare to dream 🙂

  8. Where are all the UFO enthusiast-uneducated false story telling brainwashed people?
    They should be here to learn about these drones so they can know these things exist so they can stop wasting their time on green big head little body alien stupid theories; and they can focus on reality.

    #UFO #ufo #people #theories #stopwastingtimeonufobs #world #area51 #aliens #blurrypictureforufoevidence

  9. Imagine what happens when a small group of powerful people possess 50 million of these and can control them all at the same time each one carries four bullets

  10. This brings up a tough ethical question. Are the people who work on this technology responsible for how it's used?

    I appreciate that this man, for his own part, is exploring the laws and possibilities of the universe. He's curious, in awe. It sounds a bit mystical.
    It reminds me of Einstein, another curious, brilliant scientist. He never wanted the nuclear bomb, or nuclear meltdowns, to come from his work. But they did. Was he partly responsible?
    This drone tech has already been weaponized. The inventors motivation is exploration, but what of the ethical implications of their inventions?
    This speaks of the need to link scientific progress with ethical limits.

  11. 最後の小型ドローンがやがてEVA 44Bになるんだろうなぁ

    The last small drones will soon, EVA 44B will be………

    I'm sorry if I Google wrong translation

  12. Starting at 08:46. Imaging being a (relative) short distance away and down-wind; hearing no noise, would this immediately have people franticlly grabbing their phones and taking video's? Done in secret, would this make the headline news of: "Hundreds of people see what they consider to be UFO's flying in formation". With no noise, at the (considered) correct distance this might surely cause enough of a wonder to have serious thoughts. Maybe?

  13. So What's New in those technology?? Still in propeller type driven motor way back 100 years ago! It still NEED AIR to FLY! Cant be used in SPACE EXPLORATION which is the HIGHLIGHT.

  14. 日本語訳期待せずに凸ポチ♪

  15. This is job security gone for hit men , their jobs are on line now , to be replaced by drowns , ..imagine that , human killers are no longer needed .

  16. imagine trolling your neghborhood and making a drone with a shell cover of a UFO disc type and making it flash different lights and flying it out in the night

  17. Technology ain't nothing. The human BEING is suppose to evolve. We don't need any machines to fly or anything like that, we only need to realize who we are then all the gadgets will seem more like enemies than friends the day we realize how dumb we are.

  18. As a potential upgrade to old fashioned shaming…a trio of drones with cameras,filming a person 24/7 about their life,recharging themselves as needed,and making all video available for public view. Hmm…take that criminals.

  19. Still waiting on some of these techy creators to address the legal issues of who is responsible for all the injuries inherent in public use of these devices..
    Driverless cars??? oh wait, that one failed!

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