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[liberationtech] Flying Drones Perform James Bond Theme At TED

Mark Gould mark.e.gould at
Fri Mar 9 10:23:46 PST 2012

(Have been off-list for awhile, apologies if this is a repost.)

Professor Vijay Kumar, teaching in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering at
the University of Pennsylvania, calls them Autonomous Agile Aerial Robots
or "Flying Quadrotors," also known to researchers as drones and UAV's.
Kumar and his students have already attracted a big audience on

Kumar researches the control and coordination of multi-robot formations and
says there is much potential for aerial robots, to be sent inside buildings
as first responders, to map out the 3D layout of a structure in real time,
to search for intruders, to transport cargo.

In the video of his presentation at TED, Kumar explains the basis of his
technology; the drones "live in a 12-dimensional space... We take this
curved 12-dimensional space and transform it into a flat four-dimensional
space." The robots have motion capture cameras that tell the robot where it
is at 100 times per second. Surprisingly there is no GPS used in the
technology. The motion capture cameras, along with a laser scanner, builds
a real-time map of its environment, so there is no global coordinate
system. The coordinate system is based on the robot, where it is, and what
it is looking at.

Kumar says, "As an academic, we're always trained to be able to jump
through hoops to raise funding for our labs, so now we get our robots to do
that." Kumar finished the presentation and wowed the audience by playing a
video of the drones performing music, from the James Bond movie themes, a
project created by two of Kumar's students who orchestrated nine robots
playing six instruments. It's fascinating to watch.

For more, visit the video's page at TED:

Links to Kumar's YouTube videos:

Mark Gould, Principal, Editor, Curator
Photosynthesis Journal
Independent Media Channel:
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