In a robot lab at TEDGlobal, Raffaello D’Andrea demos his flying quadcopters: robots that think like athletes, solving physical problems with algorithms that help them learn. In a series of nifty demos, D’Andrea show drones that play catch, balance and make decisions together — and watch out for an I-want-this-now demo of Kinect-controlled quads.
Raffaello D’Andrea combines academics, business and the arts to explore the capabilities of autonomous systems. As part of his research as professor of dynamic systems and control at the Swiss federal institute of technology, he and his collaborators created works such as the self-destructing, self-assembling Robotic Chair, and designed a system that allowed quadrirotor drones to construct a 6-meter tower, brick by brick.
The Flying Machine Arena he and his team created features airborne robots performing acrobatics, juggling balls and more, while the Distributed Flight Array is a flying platform consisting of multiple autonomous vehicles that are able to dock with their peers and fly in a coordinated fashion. His explorations also have practical business applications. He co-founded Kiva Systems, a robotics company that develops intelligent automated warehouse systems, and which was recently acquired by Amazon.