If someone handed you a tiny plastic container and challenged you to snag a bunch of ping pong balls mid-air, do you think you could get ’em all? I know I couldn’t! But this self-perfecting robot sure can.
The quadrotor mini-copter is so nimble because it’s constantly learning how to move better, demonstrating what’s called LBMPC (Learning Based Model Predictive Control). In English, that means the drone knows how and where it’s moving, and can compensate for mistakes the next time around. The ‘copter quickly because spatially self-aware, learning how to take advantage of itself, like some sort of robotic puberty. At this point, it’s manoeuvrability is such that it can predict where the ping pong balls are going to land (when given the launch point) and shift itself with what looks like very little effort. It just knows. There is no spoon. But there is a ping pong ball. And the robot is catching it. [IEEE Spectrum via Robots.net]