Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have managed to create a platform for swarming micro air vehicles. The researchers say that it's the largest network of its kind, and the main idea behind the swarming units is to be sent out into disaster zones to be helpful in communication efforts. The little vehicles are capable of adjusting their own presence in the air, right on the fly, thanks to the sensors on each of the units.
There are ten individual units within the SMAVNET swarm, and each one of them are able to alter their speed in the air, as well as turn rate and altitude, based on the information gathered from the gyroscope and pressure sensors within the vehicles. The researchers hope that the swarm can be sent out into disaster areas, where they will be used to manufacture ad-hoc communication networks. Check out the video below to watch the swarm in action. Perhaps best of all, the researchers are running the swarm controllers on Linux, which can then speak to the swarm with any kind of WiFi dongle.
The idea is that the swarm would rely on one another, instead of workers on the ground, or GPS above them, to function correctly, based on signals sent from wireless signals. By relying on the other units of the swarm, researchers won't have to worry about GPS signals or messages from the ground, which can be unreliable even in good conditions.