Nano Quadrotor robot swarm video is mesmerizing, terrifying

If you fear the rise of intelligent, collaborative robots swarming together and gathering human prey for the battery tanks, look away now: the Nano Quadrotors have taken to the skies and they're terrifyingly adept. The handiwork of researchers in the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, the latest-gen Quadrotors can not only handle being tossed, inverted or generally batted around without crashing, but fly in formation.

That means you can throw a Quadrotor into the air and have it automatically re-orient itself and hover, useful for deployment in less than stable conditions. However, the real magic – or horror, depending on your willingness to subjugate yourself to our airborne masters – comes when several of the 'bots work together.

The so-called swarms can fly in formation, maintaining perfect distance from each other, but they can also hold transition between orientations in 3D, as well as shift their positions so as to navigate around obsticles. The figure-of-eight pattern in the video below is particularly mesmerizing.

The brains behind the technology looks to be a blend of several projects going on at the GRASP lab, including the Micro Autonomous System Technologies research – which looks at complex, intelligent robot collectives that would be too difficult to teleoperate – and the SWARMS research "Scalable sWarms of Autonomous Robots and Mobile Sensors." The latter attempts to replicate biological swarming habits in 'bots, using robot intelligence to carry out high-level commands from human operators.

[via Google+]