The astoundingly agile quadcopter

Back in 2009, I had the chance to spend some time with the folks at MIT’s Aerospace Controls Lab to watch some of the groundbreaking work being done with variable pitch quadcopters (basically, a helicopter with four horizontal propellors, each capable of operating at an independent speed). The thing I loved most about their setup was that the whole thing was controlled by an iPhone, communicating with a series of sensors mounted on the ceiling. Their work on variable pitch controls spread to other research centers and has now become something of a standard.

Here’s a video from a TED Talk this summer, using Kinect-controlled quadcopters. Watch Raffaello D’Andrea throw this quad like a baseball and the quad instantly recover. So much cool stuff here.