Robot Swarm: A Flock Of Drones That Fly Autonomously


Bill Chappell
NPR.org
February 27, 2014

Can drones, the small unmanned aircraft that are at the forefront of fields from warfare to commercial delivery systems, fly without human intervention? A team of Hungarian researchers answers yes, having created 10 drones that self-organize as they move through the air.

The team based its creation on birds such as pigeons, which fly in tight bunches while making adjustments and decisions. They fitted quadcopters — drones with four rotors — with GPS, processors and radios that allow them to navigate in formation or while following a leader.

Like “gregarious animals” such as birds and fish, the flock of drones follows rules of collective motion, says Tamas Vicsek, a physicist who teaches at Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University. “We came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to understand how animals move together is to build robots — flying robots.”

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