flying machine arena
ETH Zurich

Watch These Drones Dance Merrily ‘Round The Maypole

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Under the guise of “high-g quadcopter training” the folks at ETH Zurich have tethered multiple drones to a central pole and are teaching them to do 50 km/h accelerations of up to 13 gs. In short, these guys are going really fast and not hitting each other, which is amazing.

From the release:

The testbed allows the characterization of the flight behavior of quadrocopters at high airspeeds, identifying for example drag characteristics and propeller efficiency. Furthermore, the physical limits of the machine can be identified. The testbed can also be used to safely develop high-speed maneuvers, such as emergency braking.

“Note that it is possible to remove the central pole by balancing the forces acting on the strings; this could be then used in performance settings, possibly enhanced by light and sound effects,” write the creators Maximilian Schulz, Federico Augugliaro, Robin Ritz, and Raffaello D’Andrea.

The testing happened at the Flying Machine Arena where the drones were programmed to take off and accelerate quickly while synchronizing positions on the fly. It’s an amazing display of quadcopter dexterity and speed. I, for one, welcome our spinning quad-bladed robotic overlords.