Cutest Quadcopter Ever Sounds Like a Swarm of Angry Bees

This quadcopter measures only about 10 centimeters on a side, but it’s just as agile as its big brothers

1 min read
Cutest Quadcopter Ever Sounds Like a Swarm of Angry Bees

Instead of calling CrazyFlie (as it’s known) a tiny quadcopter, it might be more accurate to just describe it as a PCB that happens to also be able to launch itself into the air. Measuring a scant 10 centimeters per side, CrazyFlie uses its PCB as a primary structural component, which helps keep the size and weight to a minimum... In total, we’re talking about only 20 grams.

Despite its tinyness, the quadcopter includes a charging port, radio, 3-axis accelerometer, two gyroscopes, and a lightweight 110 mAh LiPO battery that gives it about four and a half minutes of flying time:

All of the data from the accelerometer and gyros is being used to keep the copter dynamically stable, making minuscule adjustments 250 times every second using the onboard CPU. And it seems to work pretty well: for such a little platform, CrazyFlie seems remarkably stable.

While CrazyFlie is handmade (and currently undergoing revisions and upgrades), it seems like it would be pretty cool to have something like this available in kit form. Who knows, it might even be possible to teach these little copters to work together to make giant displays, or even to perform a trick or two.

[ Daedalus ] via [ Hackaday ]

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How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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