TED Researcher Unveils Flying Robots

by An Xiao on March 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES — This video has been making the rounds on Twitter amongst TED fans, and I have to write about it and share it with you.  The TED Conference, which ran this week in Long Beach, has been the usual “nerd fest,” at least from what I’ve been hearing from attendees.

Scientist and researcher Vijay Kumar’s talk has exploded online, and it’s clear to see why.  In the talk, titled “Robots that fly… and cooperate”, Kumar demonstrates flying robots. Real, hand-sized robots that operate like mini helicopters and move with extraordinary precision.

In the talk, he identifies uses for the devices, called quadrocopters, such as first responders to emergency situations where it might be dangerous for humans, as well as for more day-to-day tasks like construction and cargo transportation.

Kumar works at General Robitcs, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, and I remember seeing his robotic creations zipping around YouTube.  But his team has outdone themselves with a video at the end that shows not their technical potential but their artistic one.

Stay till the end of the TED Talk. In the land of Hollywood, it’s easy to forget that it’s not special effects.  The robots are real, and they’re making music.

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  • Christopher Reiger

    It’s pretty incredible how rapidly robotics technology is maturing.  Our next BAASICS program (Bay Area Art & Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions) is called “BAASICS.2: The Future,” and will feature some roboticists working at the forefront of the field.  It should be a blast.  Those of you in the Bay Area should check it out; the programs are free.

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