Quadcopters Play Catch [Video]

By Jason Fitzpatrick on October 3rd, 2012

Working like a group of hive-minded bees, these quadcopters come off as almost playful with their ball throwing antics.

Courtesy of the folks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich’s Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, we’re treated to a video of three quadcopters playing catch in the research facility’s Flying Machine Area. They explain the processes demonstrated in the video:

This video shows three quadrocopters cooperatively tossing and catching a ball with the aid of an elastic net.

To toss the ball, the quadrocopters accelerate rapidly outward to stretch the net tight between them and launch the ball up. Notice in the video that the quadrocopters are then pulled forcefully inward by the tension in the elastic net, and must rapidly stabilize in order to avoid a collision. Once recovered, the quadrotors cooperatively position the net below the ball in order to catch it.

Because they are coupled to each other by the net, the quadrocopters experience complex forces that push the vehicles to the limits of their dynamic capabilities. To exploit the full potential of the vehicles under these circumstances requires several novel algorithms, including:

1) an optimality-based real-time trajectory generation algorithm for the catching maneuver;

2) a time-varying trajectory following control strategy to manage the forces on the individual vehicles that are induced by the net; and

3) learning algorithms that compensate for model inaccuracies when aiming the ball.

For more information about the project, check out the link below and hit up the left-hand sidebar for all the individual sub-projects.

Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control [via Boing Boing]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/3/12
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