The Astounding Athletic Power of Quadcopters

A TEDtalk by Raffaello D’Andrea, this is really a technological magic show.

Mr. D’Andrea is Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. He demonstrates many amazing capabilities of the simplest (and cheapest) drone technology: the quadcopter.

I will not mention all that he does because much of the pleasure of this video is in the series of surprises, and the anticipatory “Wow! … What will he do next?” But he does clearly demonstrate that these devices are exceptionally nimble to the point that one can easily be flown through space and around obstacles to serve a glass of wine without spilling a drop.

Really amazing stuff, and this was posted more than a year ago, in June 2013.

One of the most fascinating details of this 16-minute video is how quiet these small drones are. Here is a man, standing on a stage with a microphone hanging below his ear and he has four (or more?) small drones flying at the same time. Yet, you hear his voice — as well as the crowd applause — clearly, crisply, easily. In other words, these devices are so quiet, they put helicopters to shame. This excellent demonstration makes it so clear that unmanned drones are a vastly superior platform for aerial imagery, search and rescue, crop/land assessment, and other positive applications. As for the potentially negative applications (police-state surveillance, privacy invasion, small weapons delivery, etc.), …well, these are matters that CLEARLY FAA SHOULD NOT BE handling in the Public interest. These matters need to be managed by a better agency and/or a system of actual laws, not by a system of bureaucratically managed rules.

Despite how far this technology has advanced, and despite the fact that from Long Island to L.A. people are increasingly upset about minimally regulated helicopter noise, FAA continues to obstruct the use of drones. Why? Because FAA is in the business of promoting traditional aviation modes, piloted by real people who regularly die when flight missions go bad. FAA foolishly obstructs aviation progress, so as to sustain jobs for pilots. If this was a century ago, FAA would be putting the kibosh on automobiles to maintain farrier and wagon-maintenance jobs.

A Closer Look at the Man behind this TEDtalk

According to his CV, Professor D’Andrea earned a B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 1991, in Engineering Science. He earned subsequent degrees at Caltech (M.Sc. in 1992, and a PhD in 1997, both in Electrical Engineering). He was a cofounder of Kiva Systems, which Amazon acquired in March 2012 for $775 Million.

Take a look at the short video below and see how these smart  robotic systems can efficiently navigate through a large warehouse, avoiding collisions while delivering items for final packaging. One watches and realizes why Amazon is so keen on setting up low-altitude package delivery systems in public airspace … perhaps even to your front door.