Technology

# Amazing Vid of Two Quadrocopter Drones Playing Catch With a Stick

Quadrotor drones flying in synchronized formation is one thing. Coordinating together to play the James bond theme song is another. But playing catch is a — forgive the pun — whole new ball game.

Researchers at ETH Zürich, an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university, have shown two quadrocopters throwing and catching a stick with each other.

(Photo: Carolina Flores via Robohub)

Check it out:

As Robohub puts it, the work done by the ETH Zurich masters thesis student Dario Brescianini, who works in the  Flying Machine Arena, tacked “two of the most challenging problems [...] with quadrocopters.” That is, balancing an inverted pendulum and juggling balls.

Here’s what Brescianini wrote about the project, according to Robohub:

This project was very interesting because it combined various areas of current research and many complex questions had to be answered: How can the pole be launched off the quadrocopter? Where should it be caught and – more importantly – when? What happens at impact?

The biggest challenge to get the system running was the catching part. We tried various catching maneuvers, but none of them worked until we introduced a learning algorithm, which adapts parameters of the catching trajectory to eliminate systematic errors.

Brescianini and his advisers used a state estimator to predict the pendulum’s motion while it was airborne and when it was caught by the other quadrocopter. This feature, Robohub explained, allowed the quadrocopter to be in the correct position to catch the pendulum and then switch to balancing it once it landed.

A fast trajectory generator was used to make sure the drone moved fast enough to get into catching position.

One of the problems encountered while testing methods to balance, throw and catch the pendulum, included that mistakes were expensive. Robohub stated that if the quadrocopter missed catching the pendulum, it often hit one of the blades, setting the device on a crash course that often resulted in damage and required recalibration.

Read more details into how the project was conducted here.

Related:

(H/T: Reddit)

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:32pm

Pretty awesome! Can’t wait to see that technology trickle down to the consumer quadcopters. Still, its amazing what you can get on the current market – the Syma X1 less than \$40 and can still do a lot! You can see it here along with a few other ready to fly models: http://quadcopterhq.com/top-quadcopters/

• ##### Stoic one
Posted on February 25, 2013 at 12:21pm

Cool… independent decision making.

• ##### Krutch
Posted on February 24, 2013 at 2:08pm

Such technology, yet we still have trash in DC telling us how to live, think, act, and vote! Oh….. yeah and whether or not and how we are allowed defend ourselves.

• ##### I-am-an-American
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 5:33pm

I’m just a simple country boy so naturally I’m very impressed that the catching Quadrocopter was aware of the sticks orientation and location in 3D space so it could calculate where the end of the stick would be in 3 D space when the stick was almost vertical and then generate a control algorithm to be at the right point in 3D space to not only catch it but balance it. So I was thinking, if I was driving my pickup out in California where all the smart people live and one of them was texting their Lawyer and lost control of their brain and vehicle at the same time and was on a collision course with me, or if I was texting my cousin and lost control of my brain and was on a collision course with a concrete telephone pole, if I had that kind of control system in my pickup it could keep me out of harm’s way. MRAPPLE, flying cars have been around for a while, however most people can only control a vehicle in 2D space, so without a system like this, on any given night on either left coast it would look like a giant meteor shower.

In fact I would feel a lot safer if there were an executive order mandating all or at least most politicians (depending on their background check) had to have their vehicles equipped with this technology.

• ##### Brents Torts
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 12:56pm

That’s amazing. I want one.

• ##### hi
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 12:12pm

It is really cool but it doesn’t come close to what the human body can do with catching and throwing. Yet people believe that humans are here randomly with no intelligent design.

• ##### Mr.Fitnah
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 8:04am

Soon kids can use them to play catch from the safety of their couch .
Sticks can be dangerous.

• ##### MittensKittens
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 6:55am

I can fix that little bugger with my 12 gauge!

• ##### ccfonten
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 10:53am

Yep, great for target practice!

• ##### media-bias-steals-elections
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 3:16am

Very clever, one stick turns into an octogon, suddenly you have modules of payloads that could be supported by a few dozen birds. Very useful for temporary shelters such as raising tents if they can lift guide wires to support poles that would allow winches to pull things around.

• ##### MittensKittens
Posted on February 23, 2013 at 6:54am

Huh?

• ##### dabrain
Posted on February 22, 2013 at 11:21pm

“It’s not that the talking dog can’t spell. It’s that he can talk at all!
God knows what all those trillion\$ in the black budgets over the decades have come up with.
Uh, ya know that Matrix thingy………SURPRISE.

• ##### Lando
Posted on February 22, 2013 at 8:15pm

amazing

• ##### Thighmaster
Posted on February 22, 2013 at 6:16pm

Wasn’t splitting the atom supposed to be about energy for the future ? How’s that working out for us ?

• ##### MrApple
Posted on February 22, 2013 at 8:13pm

What I want to know is does this lead to my “flying car” that the science fiction writers promised us? If not then Joe Biden might be right about buying a shotgun. That would work really well at clearing these damn quadrocopters from my backyard.