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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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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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