Another great post from Robohub. Excerpt:

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” — a catch phrase that aptly expresses the Distributed Flight Array: a modular robot consisting of hexagonal-shaped single-rotor units that can take on just about any shape or form. Although each unit is capable of generating enough thrust to lift itself off the ground, on its own it is incapable of flight much like a helicopter cannot fly without its tail rotor. However, when joined together, these units evolve into a sophisticated multi-rotor system capable of coordinated flight and much more.

Read the rest here

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Comment by Morli on June 12, 2013 at 10:46pm

Nice,  I was wondering how they connected to each other. Now I know. reminds me of concept of self assembling Cube/snake robots by NASA for space usage.

Comment by Federico Boldori on June 13, 2013 at 12:04am

It seems that they used some strong magnet. Great piece of tech indeed.

Comment by Jack Crossfire on June 13, 2013 at 2:17am

It needs to form the shape of a ninja, black sheep, or scorpion.

Comment by John Githens on June 13, 2013 at 11:06am

Awesome example of architecting toward a rapidly-reconfigurable unmanned hybrid-vehicle system (UHS) with some "emergent" properties. Both ground and air mobility, at the moment. Might also be seen as a few steps toward "A New Paradigm for Engineering Complex Systems" (Section 4.0, especially 4.2) as described here. Would be amazing to see "it" (the configuration of the moment) jettison a failed module, reconfigure itself, then connect with a new module(s), and proceed to, say, navigate through a different size of opening in a building...

Comment by Crashpilot1000 on June 13, 2013 at 6:07pm

All this stuff is really exciting but the main problem remains: intelligence. Even Bees can outperform the smartest project. I think the key would be a three dimensional, error resistant, unsharp programming language. But who will program on that ....

If it could be done any other way we all would have a reset button and a 2D brain.

270 million years of evolution somehow came up with a self learning 3D computer. Maybe sparkfun has some kit in 100 million years ready.

Comment by HeliStorm on June 13, 2013 at 8:25pm

Crashpilot...working in the medical field, I wouldn't go so far as to say our, "computers," are error proof...We often fail in navigation, coordination, manipulation, and several other -tion words we try to make robots do. Now, the bee IS a good goal for UASs. Most functions for these systems could more than easily be carried out by a bee level intelligence. 

Comment by Crashpilot1000 on June 13, 2013 at 9:44pm

@HeliStorm: Actually I was thinking in the same direction when I saw this: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10032

You can program this cam to recognize colors - something on a bee - level. So it should be able to detect a green tree or other obstacles. Perhaps two of them can have a synergistic effect not only in depth perception - just dreaming now....

Comment by Scott Berfield on June 14, 2013 at 9:52am

Very cool tech. 

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