Flying Robot Dodges Obstacles at High Speed
An MIT flying robot can dodge through gaps smaller than its wingspan.
Many small flying robots still have all the grace and awareness of a drunken pigeon, except that comparison probably disrespects the pigeon. MIT robotics engineers took inspiration from our fine feathered friends to make a flying robot with the lightning-fast reflexes to dodge through gaps smaller than its wingspan.
The Robot Locomotion Group at MIT captured plenty of video showing its bird-size robot flying between poles or similar artificial obstacles in a lab setting. That does not quite rival the impressiveness of a bird in flight or a "Star Wars" Jedi tearing through the forest of Endor on a speeder bike, but it's pretty good for a mechanical creation.
Some small robots have taken a different biomimicry approach — one inspired by insects rather than birds — by embracing crashes as learning experiences. The Swiss AirBurr robot can not only survive collisions and pick itself up to take off again, but also uses each collision to learn about its surroundings. [Clumsy Insects Inspire Clever Flying Robot]