Feeds

Drone quadracopters throw and catch inverted pendulum

Let the spear-throwing killbot FUD commence

The next step in data security

Video All those stories you've read lately about drones invading your privacy by photographing you from afar?

Kids' stuff … now that we have the evidence below of drones throwing and catching an inverted pendulum.

That trick has been accomplished by boffins at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, where a “Flying Machine Arena” exists and is used to train flying 'bots.

The Institute and Arena scored plenty of attention back in 2011 with this video of quadracopters juggling, after a fashion.

Now Masters student Dario Brescianini has taught the drone 'quadracopters an even tougher trick: throwing and catching inverted pendulum, essentially a pole with its centre of mass above its pivot point. Because the inverted pendulum used has two weights on its mid-section, its motion is rather more complex than that of a ball. Teaching a quadracopter to toss and catch one is therefore a rather harder problem.

Here's how the team solved it, according to Robohub:

“First, a state estimator was used to accurately predict the pendulum’s motion while in flight. Unlike the ball used in the group’s earlier demonstration of quadrocopter juggling, the pendulum’s drag properties depend on its orientation. This means, among other things, that a pendulum in free fall will move sideways if oriented at an angle. Since experiments showed that this effect was quite large for the pendulum used, an estimator including a drag model of the pendulum was developed.”

“Second, a fast trajectory generator was needed to quickly move the catching quadrocopter to the estimated catching position.”

“Third, a learning algorithm was implemented to correct for deviations from the theoretical models for two key events: A first correction term was learnt for the desired catching point of the pendulum. This allowed to capture systematic model errors of the throwing quadrocopter’s trajectory and the pendulum’s flight. A second correction term was learnt for the catching quadrocopter’s position. This allowed to capture systematic model errors of the catching quadrocopter’s rapid movement to the catching position.”

The results can be seen in the video below, which at 1:34 features a puff of smoke as the flour-filled bag that is the pendulum’s rudimentary shock absorber bursts.

Watch Video

The video is undoubtedly impressive, but it is also worth noting that military drones have vast area viewing and target acquisition capabilitie. BAE's "Gorgon Stare", for example, can track multiple objects within a 4KM radius beneath a drone.

But as any modern story story about semi-autonomous flying vehicles has to worry about cheaper models and how they will fill suburbia with privacy invading aerial cameras, we'll do so by imagining a pendulum with a sharp tip and quadracopters capable of identifying a human target at which to lob them.

Were such a rig to be developed, and it doesn't look like a massive stretch given the ingenuity on display, we'd have flying, spear-throwing, killbots to contend with. Which makes even sharks with lasers look kind of lame. ®

Thanks to Jack Clark for the Gorgon tip.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.