ETH Zurich has been teaching their quadrotors tricks with inverted pendulums since back in 2011, but this latest video is incredible: somehow, they've managed to get two quadrotors to play catch with one. Holy cow.
So it sounds like the only concession that was made was shock absorbing tips on the pendulum; otherwise, there's no actual trickery going on here, just some very clever programming and top-notch hardware. With that in mind, I wouldn't go out and try this with your AR Drone in your living room or anything; ETH Zurich has a dedicated "flying arena" that enables adaptive precision flying like this.
We certainly haven't seen the last slice of amazingcake from these bots, so what are they going to do next? Well, here's a potentially impossible suggestion: swap out that single pendulum for a double pendulum, which has a joint in the middle. A quadrotor is of course a totally different system than the one in this video, which is why I'm calling this suggestion "potentially impossible." But it's fun to think about, and if I had a nickel for every time a robot was able to do something that I thought was impossible, I'd be able to buy myself a pony.
Via [ RoboHub ]