In the world of robotic automation, one of the toughest challenges that scientists face is getting them to perform transfer maneuvers. As easy as it is for two humans to throw and catch a baton, the split-second computations that happen unconsciously in our minds are much harder to duplicate with computers.
This is why the video below is so amazing. One quadrocopter balances a pole on its “head”. This in itself is pretty impressive. Then, the pole is tossed in the air in a way that it rotates at a very specific rate. Again, this is a pretty challenging maneuver, but not exactly amazing. Where the mind gets blown is in watching the other quadrocopter swoop down and catch the pole by balancing it in its own head. Now that’s impressive.
The catching quadrocopter must recognize when the pole will be at the appropriate point in its rotation and where the tip will be at that point. To do this, it recalculates the trajectory 50 times per second, descending to the point where the tip will be when it’s just a few degrees clockwise from vertical. The spinning momentum brings it to a balanced point at center and the quadrocopter stabilizes.
Not bad, science. Not bad at all. Check out the video below and see what else they’re doing at Flying Machine Arena.