Remote-controlled quadrocopters are slowly taking over the skies. Beyond looking like an awesome James Bond tool from the late 1980s, they’ve been adapted to do a whole host of things, not the least scary of which is an army of quadrocopter drones spelling out “Big Brother” in mid-air. They’ve put on light shows, they’ve played catch, and now they’ve launched their first assault in their goal of taking over one of the most respected jobs on the planet.
Okay, so maybe “juggler” isn’t so refined a career choice, but only because a human one could never match the wow factor of ETH Zurich’s Dario Bresianini, whose master thesis project, titled “Quadrocopter Pole Acrobatics,” features two quadrocopters throwing a pole from one machine to the next, catching it on its end in perfect balance. The first time you see it, it’s almost too stunning to believe. Check out the video below, and try not to break anything attempting the maneuver yourself using your hands.
Thank goodness for the informative voiceover, as there is no basic way to explain the complex computational models and learning algorithms that are constantly measuring pressure and recalibrating to achieve that perfect wobbly balance. That part is amazing enough, but it’s confounding to see it take its strange-but-necessary lift in flight in order to get the pole to flip at just the right angle to come down on the other copter. Meanwhile, the wall behind my kitchen trashcan has remnants of a thousand reminders of why I never played professional basketball.
The next step is recreating the famed wave of arrows sequence from Zack Snyder’s 300, in which the hardest part will be imbuing the quadrocopters with homo-erotic feelings.