Fifty Quadrotors Put on Glowing Sky Show in Austria

Watch these little flying robots dance together in the sky

1 min read
Fifty Quadrotors Put on Glowing Sky Show in Austria

We were pretty impressed with KMel's quadrotor performance at Cannes back in June, and the idea of using swarms of quadrotors to create light shows seems to be catching on. At the voestalpine Klangwolke Cloud in the Net festival in Austria, a swarm of 50 quadrotors teamed up to put on a giant animated show in the night sky.

The performance, programmed by Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies, featured a world record fifty AscTec Hummingbird quadrotors in a synchronized and choreographed, LED-lit dance. The 500 gram robots were carrying lights and had special radio receivers and slightly modified firmware, but otherwise, they apparently just relied on GPS for positional control. You can't get the same performance that you can get out of a Vicon system, but on the upside, you don't need a Vicon system, which (in addition to being kinda expensive) only really works in a relatively small and well-defined environment.

Fifty quadrotors is more than anyone has ever synchronized before, but there's no reason to stop there. As long as quadrotors keep getting smaller and cheaper and more reliable and easier to use, that whole Flyfire idea just might happen sooner than we've been thinking.

[ Ars Electronica ] via [ DVICE ]

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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