Nov. 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM ET
Just in time for ski-flying season, researchers have given a robotic quadrocopter the tool it needs to teach itself how to soar through a slalom course.
The tool is a learning algorithm. Each time the robot with four helicopter-like rotors goes through the course it gets better, building on the lessons learned on during previous flights.
In less than 10 training sessions, the robots have found the optimal course. Check it out in the video below.
So, what’s the big deal? Emotionless quadrocopters, after all, don’t need an adrenaline fix like the mountain daredevils in the clip at the bottom of this post.
The learning algorithms are not specific to slalom racing, Angela Schoelling, an engineering student at ETH Zurich who is working on the algorithm, told Robohub, a news website for robotics researchers.
“Our goal is to enable autonomous systems — such as the quadrocopter in the video — to ‘learn’ the way humans do: through practice,” she said.