Stanford's UAV Helicopters Learn to Fly Themselves by Watching

They may not look as mean as the Draganfly, but these research UAV 'copters are one step closer to Skynet: they learn to fly complex stunts by just "watching" another aircraft do the same. Dubbed "apprenticeship learning," by the Stanford team which developed it, the system gets its flight plan by recording an expert human operator fly a vehicle. Then its onboard gyros and GPS systems and avionics communicate with a ground-based computer which looks at the human-derived data and decides how to fly the vehicle. It's all very tricky, due to the inherent instability of helicopter. Apparently UAVs like this may one day help firefighters track wildfires, or be sent to see out landmines in battlefield situations... and do other "spying" of course. Creepy. [Physorg]